The Post – Set our universities free

via The Post.

An article by Charles Larkin and Brian Lucey School of Business, Trinity College Dublin

Some quotes:

Hardly a week goes by without a government spokesman discussing an aspect of the ‘smart economy’. In the public (and perhaps government) mind, this is equated with technology. But a truly ‘smart’ economy is not based on technology, but on flexibility – especially mental flexibility.

Developing this should be the primary focus of the higher education sector. However, a set of interlinked issues render it unable to do this.

Irish higher education suffers from a conflict of mission statements. It is expected to deliver on innovation, education, social enrichment, economic growth, public health and improved lifestyles. Though research suggests that all of these – and more – arise from higher education, the effect varies across individuals and disciplines. The context is further complicated by the regional imperative.


Freedom must also, of course, mean freedom to fail. If a university were unable to deliver on required educational outcomes, then it ultimately would be required to fold or to be subsumed by another more successful university – and mechanisms need to be created to deal with the fall-out if it happens.


Freedom should be extended to faculty wages. At present, within narrow bands, the best are paid the same as the worst, the most active the same as the least. Universities must be able to set wages based on the demand for the faculty and on the excellence or otherwise of its job performance.

See the post: below which makes some similar points.

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