UCD amends job advert allowing only ‘university’ PhD graduates

Higher Education Authority to discuss board member’s remarks next week

UCD has amended a job advertisement for a lecturing post to remove a condition that appeared to bar graduates from institutes of technology.

The job description for the biomedical engineering lecturing position included the mandatory requirement of a PhD “from a university of comparable standing to UCD”.

A number of academics expressed concern to The Irish Times about the wording of the advertisement amid fresh debate this week about employers discriminating against graduates of particular institutions.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is to discuss this broader issue at a meeting next Tuesday in the wake of comments by one of its board members Paddy Cosgrave about the relative value of degrees from different colleges.


A spokesman for UCD described the advertisement, placed by its college of engineering and architecture, as a “mistake” and “inaccurate”.

“That wording shouldn’t have been there. It may give the impression it excludes [graduates from] institutes of technology, and obviously that’s not the case. It was not intended to exclude anyone.”

The job description has been amended accordingly on the UCD website but there has been no change in the deadline for applications, which is this Sunday, May 18th.

“We don’t feel it will have affected the applications coming in.”

Quality of degrees
A spokesman for the HEA pointed out that the quality of degrees was closely monitored both within institutions and externally, and university professors would tend to sit on PhD panels for IoTs.

“The standard coming out of recognised institutions is acknowledged to be high and is bourne out by surveys of employers and employment statistics.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Union of Students in Ireland Joe O'Connor said he would raise Mr Cosgrave's views at a meeting of the HEA board next week.

Mr O’Connor, who also sits on the HEA board, said his members – including those in Trinity – were very critical of what were “extremely ill-informed views”.

“The idea that it’s only TCD which provides four-year degrees is quite simply false.

“It’s also quite unhelpful for a member of the HEA to suggest there is significant grade inflation in every other institution in the country other than their own and so their degrees should not be valued as highly.”

Last week, Mr Cosgrave, the founder of the tech event The Summit, announced that in recruiting to its internship programme it would only consider those who had got a first-class honours degree, with the exception of Trinity where a 2.1 would be acceptable.

Mr Cosgrave – a TCD graduate – cited the risk of grade inflation in Irish higher education, saying “a 2.1 in one university would not equate to a 2.1 in another university”.

He also noted degrees in TCD operated on a four-year cycle whereby “outside of Trinity most of the degrees are three-year degrees and I think that makes a huge difference . . . and that’s primarily what we are emphasising”.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column