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A Changing Higher Education Landscape in Ireland - the perspectives of academics - Linda Dowling-Hetherington
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A Changing Higher Education Landscape in Ireland - the perspectives of academics - Linda Dowling-Hetherington


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  • 1. +A Changing HigherEducation Landscape inIreland - the perspectives of academics Dr. Linda Dowling-Hetherington University College Dublin1 OECD IMHE Conference, Paris, September 2012
  • 2. + BACKGROUND 2 Irish HE – the challenges  Funding, research  Governance, decision-making & resource allocation RESEARCH THEMES  Focus on performance indicators  Changes at UCD Aim of Research:  To determine how HE change is  Role of the Academic impacting upon academic staff  Decision-Making & Case Study Collegiality  School of Business, University College Dublin (UCD)  63 FT faculty / 28 interviews  Period since appointment of new Vice-Chancellor in 2004
  • 3. + UCD Change Programme 3 Pre-2004: Aims  Complex & fragmented organisational structure  tobecome a  11 faculties & 89 Depts research-  Duplicative functions, lack of intensive transparency in decision-making, little university interdisciplinary collaboration  tosupport Post-2004: interdisciplinary  New Vice-Chancellor appointed research  Organisational re-structuring  5 Colleges & 34 Schools  excellencein  Changes in management structures, teaching/learning mission, curriculum and student  Change in role expectations, experience resource allocation process
  • 4. Reflections of academics on the changes+ introduced 4 University-level changes: Reflections on the Impetus for Change  Strategic planning  ‘Under-performing’  Management structure  ‘Slow response to change……a faster  Appointment of Vice- chain of command was needed’. Chancellor & centralisation of power  Need to be ‘more efficient and give more value for money’.  Organisational re-structuring  Research focus Reflections on the Changes Implemented  ‘The biggest single change has been the  Modularisation whole notion of governance and executive-  Bureaucratisation style management’. School-level changes:  Executive Dean Reactions & Coping Strategies  Abolition of Departments  ‘Disengaged’, ‘disconnected’  Reduced power of Heads of  ‘Getting on with the job and just staying Subject Areas out of it’.  Reduced autonomy  ‘Working behind closed doors’.
  • 5. + Changing Role of the Academic 5 Reflections on the role Research Administration of the academic Explicit research Teaching & ‘The demands on output Learning academics – if you want requirements compliance/ to be a serious academic systems – have increased dramatically’. Changing Dimensions Engagement in service is of Role ‘rewarded less and valued less’. Performance The ‘largest change in Workload Same emphasis on terms of the work itself’ is teaching in the ‘reporting and Workload model performance management systems,Work intensification information processing No performance system….’ reviews
  • 6. + Faculty/School Decision-Making 6 Reflections on Pre-Change Post-Change Decision-Making Department  Faculty meetings Pre-Change: meetings abolished ‘........there was a feeling that, at the Heads of very least, any Department  School meetings member of Faculty meetings Information could say their piece dissemination in a Faculty meeting. Faculty ….. at least they had a meetings  dialogue/ voice …….’  Self-governing decision-  Consensus making? Post-Change: building The School meetings  Executive Dean are ‘pseudo  But tensions participative entities’ evident ……. with ‘little room for conversation’.
  • 7. + Collegiality 7 Before the changes  Conflicting views  Variations across departments Reflections on Collegiality Post-  Greater day-to-day interaction Change  Homogeneous Faculty cohort ‘You’re increasingly Since the changes living in a world where  Not as pronounced people just want to go  Less co-operation / discussion / into their own room, close the door and interaction stay there and get on  Declining attendance at events with their own (e.g. graduations) research’.  Focus on research output  Individualist nature of academic life (promotions system)