Tuesday 25 April 2017

TCD gives low grade to reforms

Academics say college has failed to foster growth in R&D

John Walshe Education Editor

MAJOR reforms at Trinity College Dublin have failed in their aims of creating more time for research and teaching and ending duplication of tasks, according to a survey of academics.

The reforms had been pushed through by the Provost John Hegarty. Initially he had tried to get rid of five separate faculties and small departments in favour of a few strong schools. The hope was that this would lead to greater efficiencies but the plan provoked considerable opposition. Eventually the college authorities were forced to retain three faculties and settle for 34 schools.

A review by Prof Sybille Reichart of North-Rhine Westphalia and Prof Luc Weber of the University of Geneva said that this led to a "duplication of administrative duties at school and faculty level". It also failed to create a clearer connection between academic decision- making in the schools and the rest of the college.

A separate survey delivers a damning verdict on the restructuring process, according to the student newspaper 'The University Times', which published details yesterday.

It showed that more than half of the academics disagreed with the notions that administrative support had improved or that the connection with central decision-making had been enhanced due to the changes.

Almost 60pc said they disagreed with the proposition that duplication of tasks had been removed while only 4pc felt that the restructuring had resulted in more time for teaching and research. More than half disagreed with the notion that the new structures meant more time for teaching and research.

The college sought to downplay the significance of the poll, saying that there was only a 25pc response rate and that there was no test for bias among the respondents.

A spokeswoman said the survey was one input to the overall mid-term review which the college saw as an integral part of the restructuring programme.

"In any restructuring process there may be things which are not functioning as well as they might and it is important not to have too long a time elapse before necessary corrective action is taken. This review has assisted in identifying those issues."

She said that the board considered the report of the external review "which noted the positive outcomes of the restructuring and presented a number of recommendations to address areas of concern". It established a taskforce in June 2010 under the chairmanship of Professor David Singleton to consider how the recommendations could be addressed.

The taskforce is expected to report to the board shortly.

But Mike Jennings, general secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, told 'The University Times' that the overwhelming negativity in the responses should make people pause. He asked what was the point of restructuring if so many felt it did not lead to more time for teaching and research.

Irish Independent

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