Academics “disturbed” by UCD/TCD merger

Staff members have condemned the “secrecy” with which UCD has joined with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to form a research alliance, which will initially concentrate on science, engineering and technology subject areas, in an attempt to ‘boost innovation and job creation’. The merger has been met with criticism by the heads of universities and staff members who feel uninformed about the goals of the alliance between Ireland’s two largest universities.General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), Mike Jennings, described how academic staff members are concerned with what the research merger will entail, explaining that due to a lack of available information he is “unable to evaluate if it will actually be good for the student population and for Ireland as an entity or not”.Mr Jennings claims staff have reservations about the research alliance due to the nature in which it was formed, without consultation with the heads of the remaining fi ve universities. “For two individual universities to get together with the government minister, without any information being given to their colleagues from the other fi ve universities seems to me to be disturbing to say the least”.In a letter to staff members last week, Dr Brady stated that the alliance will blend education, research and enterprise in a manner similiar to that utilised in Silicon Valley and Massachusetts Institiute of Technology in the United States. However this has drawn criticism from staff members who feel that the move “does seem to sugget a preoccupation for research to the negation of the teaching experience”, according to Mr Jennings.“We feel strongly in IFUT that the core mission of a university is to teach and to research, but I get a very strong impression from the current leadership of both UCD and Trinity that their entire focus is on research, and even more worryingly, on matters of international acclaim”.Mr Jennings further criticised the universities’ actions stating that the prospect of merging the two universities together for research purposes should have been “discussed openly” and that all stakeholders should have been involved in the consultation process.Approximately €650 million will be provided by the Government, industry and private funding to the research alliance. Despite this, the Government has moved to reassure the fi ve remaining universities that their research activity will not be overshadowed by UCD and TCD following criticism of the merger from a number of university heads last week.