STUDENTS could face larger tutorial and practical classes in September following a recent decision to place signifi cant restrictions on staff recruitment by UCD and the Higher Education Authority (HEA). Both academic and administrative staff members who resign or retire will not be replaced, leading academics to fear that the future of some academic programmes and student services are in danger.
Academic staff members are considering the move as a “possible knee-jerk reaction” from both the university and the HEA and hope that following negociations, UCD will be allowed a level of “independence in individual promotions,” said Head of Academic Staff Association (ASA), John Dunnion.
Mr Dunnion explained that all tutors and demonstrators will have to be newly appointed in September for the start of the academic year and feared the implications the recruitment freeze would have on students. “It would be a ridiculous situation come September if the HEA had to ratify every single demonstrator and tutor appointment that the university would want to make.”
It would be preferable for students for the university to have the power to appoint tutors and demonstrators without HEA approval, said Mr Dunnion. “Obviously the university would want to make those appointments because without them classes won’t run.”
Citing concerns for academic programmes and administrative services, Mr Dunnion explained that if academic staff numbers are hit students will “end up with larger tutorial or practical classes. You’ll end up with certain module not available because the expertise is no longer in the university.”
In addition to cuts in school budgets for tutors and demonstrators Mr Dunnion feels that if the embargo on recuritment is not lifted it may be harder for schools to offer specialised subjects to students.
Describing the situation as “really up in the air at the moment”, Mr Dunnion explained that staff members fear that there will be noticable cuts in student services, naming library opening hours as a possible option.
This decision to restrict staff recruitment comes as the HEA announce a general freeze on external recruitment to core-HEA funding positions. It is anticipated that the university will implement an overall budget and staff plan within two months.
A university spokesperson declined to comment further than a statement which was released to heads of schools last week.