It is believed that widespread discontent and “forceful” opposition is growing among administrators in UCD schools to a new review of the entire curriculum across every course being pushed by the UCD administration.
Speaking to the College Tribune a source working in the administration of a school in the Arts & Social Sciences has revealed there is growing frustration among staff with a major curriculum review the UCD authority is pushing through this year.
The Curriculum Review is a process launched last October by the Registry and Teaching and Learning department of the UCD Tierney building. Its aim was to entirely review all modules currently offered by UCD across all schools and disciplines. But the strict timeframe and unclear objectives of the review have led to serious mounting opposition and concerns from college staff. In cases outlined of some school’s interaction with the review they “bluntly refused” to meet the strict deadlines set by the UCD college administration.
The review was announced to staff in October 2015, and then staff in all schools and departments were expected to have identified the ‘programme outcomes’ of every module they offer to students by November 2015. The process of outlining the outcomes a student gains from an individual module requires administrative staff working in schools to attempt to qualitatively dig into each module. This can mean in some cases compiling 10,000 word assessments of each module. The timeframe to complete this extensive task was described by one school administrator as “brutal”, and as a result they have seen a level of “forceful” pushback against the college administration from schools. “This is our water charges” the source stated as they described the developing opposition within schools towards the UCD administration.
“This is our water charges”
The review itself was also criticised by the source, who wished to remain anonymous, they said UCD staff were “unclear” as to what form their analysis should take due to the excessive bureaucratic jargon in briefing documents on the review. As the review is to take place in all subjects and schools across UCD, Arts courses would be assessed in the same way as the Sciences, meaning the process is “too blunt” to provide any useful feedback or results according to the source. Quality reviews of modules are often done school wide, within the School of Law for example, but it is unprecedented in Ireland to have a review university wide.
It is believed a growing proportion of staff in UCD feel the Curriculum Review is simply a review for the sake of a review. The source told the Tribune they would suspect “this is done so Mark Rogers can look good as a Registrar.” Mark Rogers is the deputy president of UCD, and the dean of all academic affairs.
The source told the Tribune they would suspect “this is done so Mark Rogers can look good as a Registrar”.
Another feature of the Review is to attempt to promote research in undergraduate studies, while this is compatible with empirical subjects in the Sciences, it is less suited to Arts or Social Science courses such a history, drama, philosophy, or English. Documentation outlining the purpose of the review states it will seek to embed research in the undergraduate curriculum, and “make the research development outcomes” of each module explicit. The move is the latest step in the orientation of UCD towards a more corporate business model that focuses on research as a priority.
One unexplored aspect of the Curriculum Review is the effect it will have on students. Staff it is believed were given no prior consultation on the project before it was launched, and are unclear as to how, or by who the results of the Review will be used by. Throughout the two-year process up to 2017 at no stage will current students be consulted in the review. In the first stage of the project small groups of graduates from various schools and disciplines were given the opportunity to take part in a feedback session with those working on the review. The implementation stage of the review is to be completed by February 2017.
Jack Power | Editor