Incompetent academics to face strict penalties
ACADEMICS face stiff penalties if they fail to get a satisfactory rating under a proposed controversial performance appraisal system.
Under the confidential plans, staff who get a poor rating will not be able to go for promotion, take sabbatical leave, undertake private consultancy work or receive annual salary increments.
The proposals were put forward in discussions with the unions on implementing the Croke Park Agreement.
They also provide for targets to be delivered by academics and for student evaluation of their own lecturers.
But the plans are facing massive opposition from unions.
Individual universities are putting forward slight variations of what one described as a "menu" of options which seek greater co-operation and flexibility from staff.
One university said that the time at which leave was taken was at the discretion of management and must be applied for and approved in advance.
The same institution said that a review of contracts would include a "requirement to be in attendance at the university during the normal working week for the duration of the college year which is 12 consecutive calendar months".
The requirement would seem to rule out academics working from home.
A tough negotiating line is also being taken by management for the Institute of Technology sector.
Although lecturers are contracted for up to 560 teaching hours per year, the institutes claim many do not meet that target and are insisting that they do.
Both the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Irish Federation of University Teachers are resisting many of what they see as the excessive demands being made by management and the talks are said to be at a crucial stage.
The Croke Park deal provides for an extra hour per week but the unions argue that management is trying to extract too many additional concessions from them.
Ballots of the final proposals will have to be organised so that the changes can be implemented in time for the next academic year.
The proposals echo the approach being taken in the forthcoming Hunt report which said there was a lack of transparency regarding staff workloads in the universities.
This contrasted with other countries, said the report, which stressed that the transparency and content of academic contracts needed to be addressed to ensure that productivity was at acceptable levels and that public confidence was maintained in higher education.
It also called for greater managerial discretion with regard to under-performance by staff in higher education institutions.
Paddy Healy, former president of the TUI, said that together with colleagues from the universities and Institutes of Technology, he was organising a meeting of academics to resist the plans -- which he described as an "attack" on academic freedom, permanency and tenure, and Irish democracy.