The Man Who Mistook His UCD For A PLC


Dr Paul Mooney, president of the National College of Ireland from 2007-2010.

He wants to shake up third level education.


Firstly, the culture is not supportive of teaching.

Secondly, the senior teams are seldom skilled in the area of performance management.

Thirdly, there is no effective management system which drives performance.



Inside Third Level Education (Paul Mooney, Irish Times)

31 thoughts on “The Man Who Mistook His UCD For A PLC

      1. AC

        What bullshit is this?

        It has a stream of revenue, it has to attain certain results within certain constraints, and it has to make ends meet.

        What exactly makes a university ‘not a business’?

        1. cluster

          The language is fairly clear, for example some ‘lecturers are lazy and don’t update their material’ and ‘there are very few output standards and almost no downside to not meeting these’.

          Business or not, if we are to pour billions of state money into these institutions, we should be confident about what we receive in return.

          My experience of university in Ireland is very much a mixed bag and it would be my impression that most students (undergrad or beyond) have experienced this.

          1. Michael

            My experience with students is a mixed bag too. Many failed to show up for class, they were often unprepared, plagiarism was rampant, basic literacy levels were sub par, and they consistently confused their rights with their responsibilities.

  1. well

    This is actually a little refreshing, usually whenever education comes up only two “solutions” are ever presented , introducing more fee’s or more privatization, both of which will absolve the government of some of the responsibilities but not necessarily fix the problem

      1. Dave

        Plus he did not “reach out”! Jesus I can’t stand that one! No mention of burndowns either!

  2. Dr. Chunks

    If you work on an assembly line and make a balls of something then it’s your fault and a manager will dump on you. But you can be sure that the raw materials will be fit for what you are doing.

    If you are an educator and a student makes no effort to engage or learn in any way, then who’s fault is that? The “raw materials” for the “business process” are not adequate.

    That’s an example of how “business” type management ideas may not be suitable for education.

    1. Pedanto, The Hilarity Man

      I agree with you that assembly-line methods can’t just be imported into universities. But they should have systems for gauging who is doing a good or a bad job, and for rewarding and punishing people as appropriate.

      1. Silly person

        Reward comes through publishing, seminar speaking, seeing students finish well, getting through another year without a nervous breakdown because you have 650 students in your class.Not sure what you mean by punishment….the stocks?

    2. cluster

      This is a terrible analogy. Most people in the ‘business’ world are not producing widgets, using a standard set of specifications and common raw ingredients, either.

  3. Pedanto, The Hilarity Man

    Let’s run him up the flagpole and see if the cat gets an erection.

    (He’s right, though.)

  4. Anacedemic

    I’m a university “lecturer” and teaching takes up 40% of my time, which is easily taken up with delivering a few hours a week in lectures, writing those lectures, supervising project students at undergrad and master’s level, setting assignments and exams, and – the most time-consuming bit – marking the work of hundreds of students.

    Another 40% is spent on research (incl supervising PhD students), and the last 20% in admin (anything from managing the accreditation scheme for a degree to running free events for local schoolkids).

    Academics aren’t just teachers, and switching to a teaching-focused 36-week academic year would make the job so much more boring that I’d quit and move to another country where my job still had variety (academics are very internationally portable – we move around a lot as it is). So what, I hear you say? Well, I sure wouldn’t want to go to a university where all the lecturers were either counting down the clock til they can find a better job abroad, or resentful because finance/family/etc. is forcing them to stay in a job they’ve grown to hate…

    1. Melton_Carbury

      This is the reasoned response I wish I’d written, instead of just going “AAARRRRGHGHHGHGHG”

    2. Fat Frog

      @Anacedemic -is the spelling of *academic* in your name deliberately wrong? If so, to what end and if not perhaps you should devote a % of your time proof-reading. Just sayin’

  5. Mrs Stapleton

    I don’t understand why lecturers complain about marking assignments.

    You set the assignments, so if marking them bores you, why not set something more interesting to do?

  6. SDaedalus

    He’s right about the teaching thing.

    Since withdrawal of third level fees funding for universities has been research driven, focusing on research topics likely to generate funding (which are not always the ones which should generated funding).

    At the end of the day Irish universities are never going to be world-class research universities in most areas (there may be a few specialist areas in which they can shine), but what they can do is turn out smart and knowledgeable graduates and they should be focusing more on this.

    Teaching and research are interrelated and you can’t be a good teacher at third level without also doing research or vice versa but the idea that ‘teaching’ is less important or prestigious than ‘research’ is very prevalent – particularly where funding is concerned – and needs to be changed.

    I won’t go there with the performance management doublespeak thing.

    1. Mr Meh

      The ITs are a complete joke when it comes to salaries and the level of lectures there- we have PhD students who came through Tallaght IT and I was shocked to hear of the type of layabout assholes that are on tenured salaries, do about 10 hours a week lectures and then sit on their holes not doing any research.

      UCD, Trinity, NUI, DCU, and RCSI, if you don’t bring in research funding and do teaching then you loose your job. Does this guy not get that? “publish or perish” isn’t just some phrase.

  7. Elvis Carty

    The idea that university lecturers are using their research time to do their own PhD would be laughable, if it wasn’t the case that this guy has some influence. You would not be employed as a lecturer in the majority of Irish teaching institutions unless you already had a PhD.
    The sentence about ‘Ireland Inc’ is actually gobbledygook.

    1. Paddy M

      The sentence about ‘Ireland Inc’ is actually gobbledygook.

      Any sentence about ‘Ireland Inc’ is actually gobbledygook.

    2. Bo

      Jesus, not only do you have to have a PhD, you have to have two books published now before you even get in the door for an interview.

  8. Sam B

    + 1. true dat etc. But this is obviously a highly paid, well-qualified ex-college head, who is in all seriousness arguing that academics should be working for the ‘Ireland inc’ concept. Makes you wonder.

  9. Mr Meh

    Eh- this guy ran NCI- NOT a university, WTF does he know? Obviously he as a chip on his shoulder from his time at Trinity when they rightly looked down their nose at his qualifications from there.
    I recommend anyone to look at his consultancy website for even more laughs- he’s a complete David Brent.

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