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Universities must work for good of society not just business

Date Released: 25 November 2013

A campaign to highlight the increasing efforts to redefine our universities as ‘businesses’ rather than centres of research, study and learning has been launched, with the initial support of over 700 lecturers and academics across all seven Irish universities.

The campaign, that was launched in Dublin on Monday, 25th November, is based around a 10 point Charter, which highlights the Irish university as a public good, not a private profit-making institution. It mirrors similar ‘Defend the University’ campaigns internationally.

Launching the campaign Jens Vraa-Jensen (Denmark), Chairperson of the European Standing Committee for Higher Education, Education International, said that universities must be guaranteed sufficient autonomy, funding and freedom to search for deeper truths than just solutions to the latest contemporary crisis.

 The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) and SIPTU support ‘Defend the University’.

Spokesperson for the campaign, Ronnie Munck of SIPTU, said: “This crisis is often diagnosed as one of finances alone. While the continuous bleeding of funding for education is a most serious cause of concern, there is an even deeper crisis of perspectives, a failure of the imagination and a rush towards marketisation and managerialism.

“This will destroy Irish higher education as a source of new ideas and understanding of our society, if not reversed.

“The basic question is whether the university is run according to the business logic of a profit-making enterprise  - or maintained and developed as a public service with a social accountability model and logic.”

SIPTU Education Sector Organiser, Louise O’Reilly, said: “SIPTU is supporting this campaign because we believe there is a need to start a debate about Irish universities. As the largest union in the university sector representing all grades and categories of staff SIPTU has a clear overview of what is happening.

“We do not wish to see universities forced to conform to corporate interests, rather the emphasis must in be on making them excel as places for the next generation to learn.”

To read the ‘Defend the University’ Charter click here


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