LECTURERS at a third-level institute have called on their chairman to step down from his position after he was cleared on appeal of plagiarising his thesis.
An emergency meeting of the TUI branch of the Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) was held after Flan Garvey – chair of ITT's governing body since 2003 – was cleared of plagiarising his 2008 master's thesis.
Mr Garvey – a former FF councillor – said he was returning to work "straight away" after stepping aside last December to allow the investigation into the plagiarism allegations to proceed.
On Thursday, up to 60 TUI members from the ITT branch attended an emergency meeting on the campus of the institute.
An email alerting ITT branch members of the meeting read: "There is widespread concern among the members of this branch about the implications of the examinations and assessment appeals committee (EAAC) decision for the protection of academic standards, for the ability of academic staff to do so and for the reputation of this institute and of the whole IOT sector."
After debating the issue, a motion was overwhelmingly passed by the branch, which stated that it was inappropriate and not in the best interests of the institute for Mr Garvey to continue as the chairman of its governing body.
TUI assistant general secretary Aidan Kenny told the Irish Independent that its members were the academic custodians of institutes and had a contractual duty and obligation to report any breaches of academic quality assurance they were aware of.
"If an academic member becomes aware of any breach, they have to report it," Mr Kenny said.
ITT president Dr Oliver Murphy said an investigation would be held into who leaked information regarding the thesis to the media, but the TUI has warned it will protect members.
"The TUI will stand by academic members 100pc and challenge the institute which tries to undermine the academic freedom of our members," Mr Kenny said.
The issue regarding the Tralee branch motion will be discussed at a TUI colleges' advisory council meeting next month.