Friday, 29 May 2015

We need to talk....about the future of Irish third level education!

An opinion piece by Patrick Clancy in the Irish Times this week claims that while the higher education system has become a pivotal institution in contemporary Irish society, there is a failure to develop any serious discourse about higher education policy in Ireland, no vibrant research community studying the sector and a reliance on overseas ‘experts’. Although the achievements of Irish higher education over recent decades have been impressive the financial sustainability of the system may present the most immediate threat to the system. To read more from the Irish Times click on the link below or borrow the book which is now available for lending in the LTT collection in Bolton Street library.

The future of third level..

Gender inequality ‘a systemic issue for Irish higher education’

The Higher Education Authority is to appoint a panel of Irish and international experts to review gender equality in Ireland’s third-level institutions. The review is to be published within a year, and comes following controversy surrounding the appointments process at NUI Galway and wider concerns over gender imbalance in senior academic posts. Figures published by the HEA last December showed only 19 per cent of university professors are women. In institutions of technology, women make up 45 per cent of academic staff but just 29 per cent of senior academic staff. Follow the link below to the Irish Times to read more.

HEA announce review of gender equality policies

Irish Academic to lead Oxford University

Both the Irish Times and the Guardian today reveal that Waterford-born academic Prof Louise Richardson is set to become the first woman to lead the University of Oxford. She previously had filled an historic role at St Andrews where she was not only the first female vice-chancellor in 600 years but also the first Roman Catholic. In a statement, Prof Richardson said of her nomination: “Oxford is one of the world’s great universities. I feel enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution during an exciting time for higher education". Read more by clicking on the link below.

Irish Academic to lead Oxford

Friday, 22 May 2015

Research jobs in academia....

A recent survey by the Guardian reports that 65% of university staff in the UK think it has become harder to get a research post in higher education.  These results follow on from a survey carried out in 2009 by Vitae, which states that only 23% of PhD students living in the UK obtained a research post within a year of their graduation.

How do those statistics differ for graduates looking outside academia? If you would like to find out more you could join the live-chat session by following the link below.

This article by Rebecca Ratcliffe in the Guardian introduces a topic for a live-chat session that takes place today Friday 22nd May between 12-2pm.

Details of proposed panelist and possible topics for discussion.

Graduate Research Opportunities in DIT

Dublin Institute of Technology is holding an information evening for graduates who are interested in gaining MPhil or PhD.

The event takes place on Tuesday, 26th May, 2015, from 4-6pm. In the Courtyard, DIT Aungier Street, Dublin 2

Please register online at

Please contact the Graduate Research School  for further information.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Blurred lines: Plagiarism - the last taboo?

In a world of Wikipedia it's never been easier to plagiarise, but as Jonathan Wolf from the Guardian points out many people contribute to an academic paper and not many are credited. In the words of Pharrell Williams, there are blurred lines. Although crude plagiarism is easily detected, more subtle unacknowledged influence remains. Do we always remember where our ideas come from? Read more of this article and others like it by clicking on the link below.

Academic plagiarism: the last taboo...

Monday, 18 May 2015

Academics under pressure to bump up grades

A recent survey of university staff by The Guardian claims that almost half of academics have experienced pressure in the last three years to bump up student grades or stop students failing. Many academics say teaching reforms are damaging the quality of education and making their workloads unmanageable. Click on the link below to read more.

Academics under pressure to bump up grades

Supportive or pushy? Helping children revise.

This article in the Guardian today looks at how parents can support young people through revision season without controlling them. Advice includes open communication over scheduling and offering a guiding hand rather than trying to steer directly.This article links to others on exam revision tips for students. Click below for more.

Supporting children revise

Redressing the gender imbalance in academia

In this Times Higher Education (THE) article the authors explore the causes of and solutions to the dearth of women at the top of UK academia. They argue that universities need to do more to take advantage of the huge female talent pool and get women into leadership positions while also taking on board the evidence suggesting that women have different preferences than men. They conclude that carrying on as we are isn't good for equity or efficiency – so universities need to be open to fresh and unusual ideas. A separate article in the THE this week explains why McMaster University has decided to address the pay imbalance by giving its female academics a pay rise. Read these thought provoking articles by clicking on the link below.

For those of you experiencing difficulty accessing these articles you can either sign up for a free 5 article access with the magazine directly, or go into the DIT library website and log into the NEXIS UK database for access.

Redressing the gender imbalance

Friday, 15 May 2015

The war on rote learning doesn't add up.

Writing in the Irish Times this week Ted Hurley asks, can you teach skills without facts? For students to apply their skills to knowledge outside their experience he argues that we have to teach that knowledge and encourage problem-solving ability based on facts. He goes on to claim that many modern education systems, prominent educationalists and some government agencies fail to recognise that critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem-solving are intimately dependent on factual memory stored in long-term memory. Read more at the link below.

War on rote learning

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Is there a link between classroom internet & higher test scores?

The Irish Times today reports on recent research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which appears to show a link between classroom internet access and much higher test scores. Primary school children who used the internet in the classroom had significantly higher mathematics and reading scores on average than peers who had no online access. While the researchers could not be certain that internet use caused the higher scores they did identify a strong relationship. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Link between high scores & classroom internet 

Discount universities? The precarious life of Irish academics.

An article in the Irish Times today highlights serious concerns about Irish universities and what they say is the increasingly precarious nature of academic work. Concern is growing about exploitative employment practices at Irish third-level colleges, and the impact on learning. Three academics share their stories. Follow the link below to read more.

Discount universities: Irish academics

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Encouraging women into engineering. A new 'A-level' for the UK?

According to a leading figure in UK industry, a dedicated A-level could go some way to redressing the gender imbalance in UK engineering. Dr Rhys Morgan, director of education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, speaking in the International Business Times, says changing people's perceptions of the industry needs to start at pre-school level and continue – for both sexes – through to further education and beyond. Read this article and more about women in engineering by clicking on the link below.

Encouraging women into engineering

Doctoral students considered 'business critical'.

The stereotypical image many of us have of the PhD student as a lone genius with narrow specialised knowledge and little real world experience has been challenged by recent research commissioned by the UK Independent newspaper. The study shows that when these doctoral graduates enter work not only are they considered “business critical” by many employers, but they encourage and support their colleagues to think more creatively, achieve more and innovate better. The article concludes that these highly skilled PhDs make an essential contribution to the wider economy and society. Follow the link below to more articles in the postgraduate education supplement.

Doctoral students business critical

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Thinking of applying for research funds?

Applying for funding or grants can be a difficult process.  Completing forms, detailing budgets and highlighting potential successful outcomes can be a painstaking process. There are many excellent books on the subject, but Helen Lock has published some useful tips to get you started.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Are university rankings undermining access policies?

Speaking in Dublin this week at the Times Higher Education summit for universities aged under 50 years, third-level analysts warned that university league tables were incentivising higher education institutions to chase international talent at the expense of local students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Delegates heard how universities faced a choice between chasing narrow performance indicators or 'being a responsible institution which has a moral obligation to allow people succeed'. Click on the link below for more. 

Should Googling be allowed in exams?

After the chief executive of the OCR (awarding body for exams in the UK) suggested that Google searches should be allowed during secondary level exams, debate has ensued as to whether this is further evidence of dumbing down or if indeed Google assisted exams are a vital skill. To follow the debate and read the commentary click on the link below.

Googling - a vital skill or dumbing down?