Students' horizons may narrow with recruitment ban

A RECRUITMENT ban in UCD could last up to two years, affecting student services and staff positions, according to Chair of the UCD Academic Staff Association, John Dunnion. Stating that the recruitment ban could continue "certainly for twelve months", Mr Dunnion added that "there is always a timeline between a shift in direction", and acknowledged that staff positions and modules may be dropped if the ban is to continue long-term.Stating that a recruitment ban is "very much in place across the board", Mr Dunnion explained that the University has implemented the ban inorder to reach a three percent pay cut.[caption id="attachment_216" align="alignright" width="350" caption="USI activists camp outside Leinster House protesting the mooting of third-level fees. Photo: Linda Kelly"]USI activists camp outside Leinster House protesting the mooting of third-level fees. Photo: Linda Kelly[/caption]Explaining that the spaces left by retiring or resigning academics may not be filled, Mr Dunnion commented that the ban will not have an impact on tenure positions. However, he expressed concern that students will notice the impact the ban could have on permanent positions if it was to continue for twelve months or longer.Believing that undergraduate students could notice a reduction in student services and that tutors and demonstrators could be affected in the short term, Mr Dunnion explained that “The university is already running a fairly high deficit and the schools and colleges have already been asked to make cuts where they could”.Concerns of the longer term effects of such a ban have been echoed by General Secetary of UCD SIPTU section, Dr Kieran Allen.Stating that he has not received a response from the university to queries of a recruitment ban in UCD, Dr Allen commented “We don’t think that’s an acceptable way to deal with unions and management should not assume that they can expect union co-operation”.Dr Allen criticised the university for failing to engage with unions on details of UCD’s deficit, adding that “having operated this policy, (the university cannot) discard the interests and concerns of the staff and impose more work on them”.Despite receiving no communication from the university on the matter, Dr Allen argued that “we look at whats actually happening and we believe that there has been a ban on replacing jobs”.Dr Allen described the union as being “genuinely concerned for the situation of students... our resources need to be put into teaching and research”.Speaking of how students stand to be affected if the ban continues for a longer term, Mr Dunnion explained that “there will have to some belt-tightening in the provision of modules, and again this will affect students as they will have a smaller choice”.Despite the introduction of the recruitment ban which affects administrative, technical, library and academic staff, positions which are externally funded will continue, along with a “number of appointments at professorship level that were approved” prior to an announcement made by Minister of Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe that all universities must cut payroll budgets by three per cent.A UCD spokesperson defended the university’s actions by denying that there is “an official freeze on staff recruitment”, however acknowledged “considerable planning” taking place in advance of expected cuts to university funding by the Higher Educational Authority (HEA).