UCD College of Social Sciences and Law will host the Garret FitzGerald Lecture and Autumn School on Monday 19th October, in the UCD Sutherland School of Law. The daytime School (from midday) will focus on the significance of the social sciences. The evening Lecture will be delivered by Professor Cass R Sunstein,Harvard Law School, on the theme ‘Is Behavioural Science Compatible with Democracy?’. More details and bookings here.
On Wednesday, September 30, we are holding a one-day conference on ‘Higher Education Funding: Drawing on the International Experience’ in Maynooth.
The context for this conference is the debate on how to fund higher education in Ireland. In 2014, the Minister for Education established an Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education, and the motivation for the conference is to inform the discussion about the choice of funding options available; we have a particular interest in the interaction between funding mechanisms and differential access to higher education along socioeconomic lines.
International speakers include Sara Goldrick-Rab of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has written extensively on the issue of higher education funding in the US; Claire Crawford of Warwick University and the IFS, who has written several detailed analyses of the UK system; and Bruce Chapman of the Australian National University, whose name is particularly associated with income-contingent student loans, both in terms of his academic research and his role as policy advisor to many governments.
Local speakers include Rory O’Donnell of NESC and Delma Byrne of Maynooth University.
The conference will be open to all. I’ll post further details here in the coming weeks.
Update: Full details are now available here.
Many readers of Irish Economy are likely to be aware of a project to rethink the teaching of Economics, linked to the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and organised by a committee chaired by Professor Wendy Carlin of UCL. Some people associated with this blog, including Kevin O’Rourke, are also involved in this work.
On my preliminary and (so far) partial reading of ‘The Economy’, it achieves its goal of being strikingly different to the standard first-year textbook. It places at the centre of the story familiar ideas that students and the public expect to feature in Economics and understand better through Economics, including capitalism, technology, living standards, the environment, institutions, and property rights before turning to the more abstract aspects of microeconomics. All the bells and whistles of digital publication are there too including hyperlinks to many of the readings. And of course it’s all freely available. The organisers are seeking user (student and faculty) feedback via a Facebook page and it seems there is supplementary material to follow in due course.
Irish Educational Studies recently published a special issue to commemorate the landmark report Investment in Education (which was commissioned in 1962 and released in 1965). The report’s finding that half of all children were leaving school by the age of 13 generated newspaper headlines and created the environment for Donogh O’Malley’s ‘free education’ initiative of 1966. An appendix to the report provided information on the educational attainment of the population in 14 European countries (including seven in Eastern Europe) as well as in the US, Japan and Israel. No equivalent statistics could be produced for Ireland. Questions relating to educational attainment were included in the Irish Population Census from the following year. This issue of Irish Educational Studies includes two witness accounts by key players, Áine Hyland, an RA to the report team, and Seán O’Connor, first head of the Development Branch of the Department of Education. The issue, entitled Investment in Education and the Intractability of Inequality, also contains four academic papers. Mine is available here. The abstract reads as follows:
Most studies of the relationship between education and economic development focus on the line of causation running from the former to the latter. The present paper studies how the pattern of Irish development has influenced the structure of the Irish education system. The first section sets out the economic context of late industrialisation within which Investment in Education was commissioned and which determined the reception that the report received. The report’s release would be followed shortly thereafter by a series of policy measures that would expand secondary-school enrolment and graduation rates and massively increase the demand for third-level places. Later sections analyse the subsequent evolution of Ireland’s binary system of tertiary education and the recent attention devoted to science, technology and innovation policy and the ‘fourth level’ (postgraduate) sector. Concluding comments focus on the continuing relevance of the perspective embodied in Investment in Education for the surprisingly high numbers who continue to leave the Irish education system without a Leaving Certificate qualification.
Fellow economic historian Chris Colvin has brought my attention to the fact that the Management School at Queen’s University Belfast has three fully-funded scholarships for full-time PhD students in Economics, starting October 2014. In terms of thesis topics, they will consider all areas of economics, finance or management but they are particularly keen to recruit students in the following areas:
- game theory and mechanism design with some emphasis on the economics of networks and institutions;
- economic history, including business and financial history; anthropometrics and demography; health, wealth and inequality over the long run; politics, democracy and growth; the economic history of partition in Ireland;
- health economics, labour economics, and the economics of education;
- long-term development and the economics of crime;
- behavioural/experimental economics with some emphasis on social learning.
(As someone working on wealth and inequality over the long run and increasingly interested in the economics of partition, I’d particularly encourage applications in those two areas!)
The good news for successful applicants is that the studentships, which each last for 3 years, include both university fees and annual stipend of £13,863 per annum. The closing date for applications is Friday 20 June 2014 – full details are here.
April the first seems like as good a day as any to open a thread on the recent TCD rebranding initiative, which according to Brian Lucey cost the cash-strapped university around €100,000. A few questions arise:
Has it occurred to TCD that it actually has a very strong brand (how I hate that word), and that this may in fact be the reason that it does reasonably well in reputation-based surveys?
Isn’t the new shield just a little bit chintzy, and was the old one not much nicer?
If they are going to make a big deal about the book in the new crest not necessarily being the Bible of the old one, is there not a problem with the name of the College itself (my kids pointed that one out before collapsing in a fit of giggles)?
Isn’t the whole idea of “rebranding” a university just a little bit second division, and does this exercise not risk damaging the reputation of the institution?
Is there any chance that having spent €100,000 on the exercise, the promised staff consultations will be any more than a box-ticking exercise?
Always a controversial topic, the latest university rankings by QS have been published. More details here. The aim is to identify the top 200, meaning something of an abrupt stop once they get to 200. (I feel the need to put a disclaimer here that I post this not because I stand over the ranking’s exact methodology, but rather rankings such as these are used by both prospective students and policymakers, hence they are important.)
Of interest to this readership, the ranking of Economics Departments in Europe is here. Trinity features in the 51-100 cohort and UCD in the 100-150. (Digression: nice to see a popular ranking recognise the bounds of uncertainty, although this may not be the best way to do it.) Six of the top seven Economics departments in Europe are British, with one each from Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and France also in the top dozen.
9th-level Ireland has a handy table of Ireland’s top ranking departments across all disciplines from 2011 to 2014. Four departments (all in TCD) are in the top 50 in their discipline. A further 18 are in the 51-100 group (including three law departments).