TCD Academic Staff Association

 

TCD Branch of IFUT

 


IFUT Application Form

An IFUT application form (.pdf format) can be downloaded from here.


Welcome to the ASA webpage in TCD.

What has IFUT ever done for us?

apart from the roads, the aqueducts and the education system....
(with apologies to 'The Life of Brian' in reference to the Roman Empire)

IFUT protects the rights of individual members, and provides valuable advice on professional issues. At a local level, the ASA (IFUT's local branch)  participates in College committees, and helps to ensure that core values of the profession are borne in mind when decisions affecting academics and their careers are being taken. The wider union also plays a role nationally and internationally in supporting colleagues who find themselves in difficulties of all kinds.

If you think that these contributions are worth having, please help to support and develop IFUT and the ASA in College, by


Ten things you may not have known about university  education

Prof. William Reville  UCC

(From Irish Times: October 20, 2005)

Today I list 10 things about Irish universities. I do not present these as the 10 most significant thing, but each point is significant and some are rarely highlighted.
(The UCC statistics are mirrored in the other universities.)
 

  1. Flexibility and expansion.
    The university serves Ireland very well. When I started work at UCC in 1975, the College had approximately 3,250 students. Today we have close on 16,000 students.
     

  2. Relatively low support for higher education.
    Extra resources were provided by Government but they were not adequately proportionate to the expansion. For example, in 1976 UCC employed 205 full-time academic staff. Today, after a five-fold increase in student numbers, the staff figure is 580 - an increase of 2.8 times. Support for higher education (HE) in Ireland is below the OECD average regardless of criteria of assessment - percentage of GNP devoted to HE, expenditure per student, or student/staff ratios. Nevertheless we aspire to join the top ranks in university league tables.
    Compare TCD with the University of Edinburgh (UE). TCD has 12,490 students, UE has 18,340. The student/staff ratio in TCD is 16.6; this ratio is 7.5 in UE.
    TCD has an annual operating budget of  189 million; UE has a budget of  479 million.
     

  3. Student gender imbalance.
    Let me guess what sprang to mind when you saw this heading - the relatively small proportion of females doing physics or engineering? Well, there are also major imbalances in the other direction that are rarely highlighted. The following figures are UCC statistics for student intake in 2004. The first figure in the following pairs is percentage of males, the second is percentage of females. Total student intake to UCC 39/61; speech and language therapy 0/100; nutrition 3/97; occupational therapy 4/96; nursing (general) 5/95; early childhood studies 2/98; pharmacy 31/69; social science 17/83; medicine 29/71.
     

  4. Places in medical schools.
    Medicine is the most highly desired university course. On graduation, many Irish doctors emigrate to take postgraduate training abroad, causing an acute shortage of doctors for our hospitals. Consequently, almost 60 per cent of Irish junior doctor hospital posts are filled by doctors from outside the EU. The Government through the Higher Education Authority caps Irish/EU entry to our five medical schools at 325 per annum. Many more Irish students than this want to do medicine. A proportion of these would be prepared to pay "economic" fees of  23,500 per annum to enter medicine, but our system doesn't allow this (and rightly so). However we do allow non-EU students to buy their way into medical school here where they pay economic fees. About 60 per cent of medical school places are taken up by overseas students.
     

  5. Benchmarking.
    In 2002 the Government carried out a benchmarking exercise of public service salaries. Effectively all grades in all sectors received salary increases. One of the very lowest awards (3 per cent) went to university lecturers. On the other hand, lecturers in the Institutes of Technology, our sister third level colleges, were awarded an increase of 12 per cent. The university sector offered no public reaction to this public slap in the face.
     

  6. Academic industrial action.
    Irish university academics have never taken strike action. The reason, in my opinion, is a mixture of highmindedness and timidity, a timidity not felt in first and second level.
     

  7. OECD report.
    The Government commissioned an OECD report on the future of higher education in Ireland, published publicly in 2004. The report dealt almost exclusively with science and technology and ignored the humanities. The humanities side of the university responded with a deafening public silence - perhaps the 2002 benchmarking response was a dress rehearsal.
     

  8. Access to University.
    In 1965 only 11 per cent of school-leavers entered higher education. In 2004, 54 per cent of school-leavers went on to third level. The HEA has a target of 60 per cent to be reached by 2010. The correlation of advantaged socio-economic background with higher numbers entering third level has greatly lessened. Figures for the following key groups show the percentage of children of parents in each group entering higher education - the first figure in each case is for 2003, the second for 1980:
    farmers 88/30; Higher Professional 87/59; lower professional 42/33; skilled manual 60/9; unskilled manual 47/5.
     

  9. Investment in science and technology.
    The Government recognises that science and technology is vital for economic well-being and is now funding this area as never before - committed to spend almost  2 billion up to 2006. The lion's share of this new spending is in the third-level sector. Ireland is a prime location for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry and second in the world as a software exporter. And yet . . .
     

  10. Declining interest in science and technology.
    There has been a decline since the early 1990s in take-up of science at second level. In 1991, 16 per cent of Leaving Cert students took chemistry and 20 per cent took physics. In 2001, the figures were 12 per cent and 16 per cent. Recruitment is also declining at third level, causing a lowering of points for entry into these courses.