Keep advisers on boards, Oireachtas education committee hears – The University Times

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The Irish Association of Local Government has warned against removing city and county councilors from university governance bodies as part of proposed sweeping changes to the management of higher education institutions.

Association president Mary Hoade told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Higher Education that there are many “compelling and constructive reasons” for having advisers on school boards. administration of universities.

The committee today began the pre-legislative review process of the Higher Education Authority Bill, which would give the Minister of Higher Education the power to suspend and replace the governing body of higher education institutions. publicly funded universities if there are very serious concerns about how the institution is operating.

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Hoade said: “We are concerned that such a reform will eliminate representation of public representatives on university governing boards.”

“The association is of the opinion,” she continued, “that there are compelling and constructive reasons why advisers should continue to sit on governing bodies”.

The advisers have served on University College Dublin’s board of trustees for over 100 years, she said.

“Councilors have a legitimacy to speak on behalf of the Irish public through their interaction with communities, Councilors bring awareness of the public perspective and concerns regarding higher education.”

In addition, “counselors come from diverse backgrounds: rural, urban and suburban, and [a] diversity of professional backgrounds and professional skills.

“Such diversity is a powerful contraband to the corporate phenomenon of group thinking,” Hoade said.

The Association of Irish Universities (IUA), the Technological Higher Education Authority (THEA) and the Association of Colleges of Higher Education also addressed the committee today.

In his opening statement, IUA Director General Jim Miley said that while it was “necessary to update the half-century-old legislation” currently in place, “it is essential that the specific provisions of the bill do not compromise institutional autonomy ”.

“The provisions of the bill to support accountability are strongly supported by the IUA,” Miley said. “It is important, however, that the agility of individual universities is not unduly constrained. “

Under the bill, the government would also be able to impose financial and non-financial sanctions on universities.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) would be renamed the Higher Education Commission under the proposed legislation, and would have a stronger regulatory and oversight role, especially with regard to statutory codes of university governance. and statutory performance frameworks for publicly funded higher education institutions. .

THEA CEO Joseph Ryan told the committee: “The HEA also has a role to play in upholding diversity: measures that lead to the homogenization of the system, consciously or not, must be proactively fought. .

The bill presents, he said, a “risk of building governing bodies that are too small”.


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