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This just wafted across my desktop:

August 12, 2008

Mike Jennings (General Secretary, Irish Federation of University Teachers) gave a speech to the annual meeting of CAUT this past April, and reading it one only wishes to have been there; it sounds rousing:

I will presume that in Canada you experience the same problems as we do — dealing with a ruling class of administrators and “systems junkies” who know nothing about what we do but can calculate exactly how long it should take us to do it!

These people will suck all the vitality and uniqueness out of our Universities because, since they cannot count what is valuable, they simply value what is countable.

This issue has a particular character in Ireland which gives it an especially pointed edge.

Ever since 1987 pay bargaining in Ireland has been conducted on a National, tri-partite (and more recently quadri-partite) basis. This means that the pay and conditions of all workers (public and private sectors) are negotiated in National Agreements — usually of three years duration — by the Government, the Employer Bodies and the Trade Unions (and of late also by representatives of the Community and Voluntary Sector).

One of the recent unwelcome side effects of this centralized process has been the tendency to pander to the virulent anti-public sector prejudices of right-wing commentators and their media cheer leaders by conceding to their Mantra-like calls for “Public Sector Reform” and the imposition of draconian “efficiency measures”.

But these “efficiency measures” are often driven by ideological considerations rather than practical realities and they are devised by people who do not understand what it is that Academics actually do.

Worse still is the fact that implementation of these measures is entrusted to administrators and managers not to educators.

The result is that we are over-managed and under-led, because our managers have no coherent or viable vision.

Specifically, the result has been the imposition of a series of “Action Plans” which are based more on “box-ticking” than adding value.

Sound familiar?

Read the whole speech.


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