Cog Notes: Change is in the air for Irish business schools

Deans gather to consider future direction of entrepreneurial education


Eyebrows were raised at Trinity College Dublin last week when venture capitalist Seán Melly, who chairs the university’s business school, said it was “no longer fit for purpose”. Presumably, school leavers filling out their CAO forms are told something different.

Then again, Melly was speaking to the Financial Times – an entirely different audience – in the context of Trinity’s expansion plans. Over at UCD’s Blackrock business campus, a mood of change was in the air too.

The Smurfit school hosted a meeting of business college deans under the Global Network for Advanced Management, and it featured plenty of soul-searching about the future direction of entrepreneurial education. University business schools are under pressure from cut-price competitors, including MOOCs (massive open online courses) and SNOCs (small networked open courses), and some deans are muttering darkly about the “death” of the full-time MBA.

Keynote speaker Ted Snyder from Yale said “a lot of schools have probably priced themselves out of the market, given the emerging, relatively good-quality technology-based alternatives”. But he said the relationship between teacher and student remained core to education, and universities were also adding value by networking globally. “I have a feeling some of the MOOC talk is overheated.”

UCD’s business school dean Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh believed the market was seeing “a flight of quality”, and argued that his school was well-positioned. He noted 43 per cent of its student population was from overseas, adding: “Part of the risk for us in any change is when you are in the middle of it, you think it’s the end of history. We need a sense of perspective.”


Analysis challenges the idea that humanities are a fallback option

An analysis by the Higher Education Authority of CAO acceptances for 2014 raises an interesting question about student priorities.

Some 76 per cent of those accepted into medicine got their first choice of course. Some 71 per cent of those accepted into engineering and 66 per cent of those accepted into computing got likewise. So who was least likely to be accepted into their first-choice course?

The idea that arts and humanities is a “fallback option” for college-goers is challenged by the fact that 58 per cent of those accepted into such courses got their CAO first choice. In contrast, just 43 per cent of students accepted into both dentistry and nursing got their first preference. Is it possible the remaining 57 per cent wished to become doctors instead?


DCU to tap brains of Dublin pupils

DCU is planning to recruit Dublin secondary school students to tackle some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges. It’s part of the disaster mitigation schools’ competition “What If”, one of a series of projects due to be introduced over the next four years by the university’s new Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development.

The centre, which is partnering with various worthy organisations, from Eco-Unesco to Educate Together, aims to change public attitudes and behaviours in the capital towards sustainability.

From next September, students will be encouraged to submit projects on questions such as “what if there is a sea-level rise of two metres in Dublin Bay?” or “what if there is a serious chemical spill in the Liffey river basin?”

Other projects include Green Teen Transitions, which will seek to help unemployed youths find jobs or further education in the green economy; public forums to crowd-source solutions to sustainability issues; and blended online courses on environmental themes for students and educators in primary, post-primary, further and higher education.



Crumlin school marks 75 years

St Agnes’s Primary School in Crumlin, Dublin, had something of a reputation in its day. On Armagh Road in a working-class district, it lost some of its young charges to criminality and a gang culture that blighted Crumlin, particularly in the 1980s.

But today there’s a new vibe, with a more diverse and rejuvenated community. Last Friday, the school marked its 75th anniversary, focusing on positives during that transition. Guests of honour were Rita Collins (90) and Patricia Flanagan (86), who were part of the first enrolment in 1939, the same year The Wizard of Oz hit movie screens. Today’s pupils helped with a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow for the celebration, as well as some historical research in advance. Alas, the school’s roll books were destroyed in its “great fire of ’93”.

The original building remains intact, but the rooftop area, where children were dispatched during breaktime, is now covered in a polytunnel and used for gardening. As principal Adrienne Ní Cheallaigh notes, health and safety has moved on a lot in 75 years.

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