John Drennan: Trinity upgrades staff to 'professors'
Published 11/09/2011 | 05:00
The world rankings of Irish universities may be plummeting -- but it hasn't dented the self-importance of the academic elite.
In spite of falling 13 places to 65th in the QS world rankings of universities, Trinity College Dublin has upgraded the titles of all its academic staff.
A grandiosely titled 'Working Party on the Internationalisation of Academic Titles' has decided that from now on there shall be no more mere lecturers in the college.
Instead, lecturers and senior lecturers shall, in the future, be called assistant professors and associate professors and those who already have such titles will be elevated to professor and 'professor with departmental title'.
The college claims this decision is informed by 'standardisation' issues and that Trinity College is doing nothing more than following the precedent set by American third-level colleges.
But the move, which is the university equivalent of promoting a monsignor to a bishop's status, has already sparked discontent amongst the 'cap and gowns' brigade.
In particular, concerns have been raised in education circles that "it is bad enough we have grade inflation in our schools without having title inflation in our colleges. Being a professor is a title of distinction that should be earned".
Although the decision will have no implications for taxpayers, as of yet, one senior figure in education said the move was "unlikely to impress a minister who is already less than happy with the propensity of our academics to acquire more titles than the habitues of the UK House of Lords".
Significantly, the Department of Education was not consulted before the decision was taken. Responding to the revelation, however, one source noted of our academics that "they'll be looking for tipstaffs next".