TCD research is “deficient”

By Meadhbh McHugh and Mairead Cremins

The external reviews of the Schools of Genetics and Microbiology and of Nursing and Midwifery reveal underfunding across the board and issues with female representation. The reviews took place in 2010 with final version of the reports just released.
The School of Genetics and Microbiology report revealed that “there are several issues that require the attention of the College and the School” some of which are “exacerbated by the current economic climate.”
A lack of Virology, the study of viruses, has been called “a serious deficiency in the research profile of the School.” The report went on to recommend that “hiring a relatively senior Virologist in the School should be made a top priority for the College.” In addition to filling an important teaching need, ‘the potential emergence of viral pandemics, such as SARS and Swine Flu, as well as the ongoing HIV crisis, has made virology a high profile discipline.”  The School has obtained assurance from the Faculty Dean that it is “first in the queue” for such a post.
The report also recommended that the College decision not to provide start-up funds for staff should be changed so to attract the best candidates for the position.
The School also needs to address the low number of women faculty when making future Staff appointments, with only three female staff out of 23 staff members, none of whom are full Professors, albeit the fraction of female students is considerably higher.
Taught masters programmes at the School, of which there are none at present, “could bring in much needed revenue in this period of tight resources” the report suggests. The School says they will keep this option under review but judge that “such courses would bring more disadvantages than advantages to the school at present.”
The report also indicated that financial resources are a serious issue for the School, with the School operating with a deficit budget. The report called for College to recognise pre-existing high performance of the School and reward it in the baseline funding of any new resource allocation model.
The report found that overall the grouping of the former departments of Genetics and Microbiology into a single school was working well with standards of teaching and research remaining high.
In the School of Nursing and Midwifery, the review team said that they would like to commend the School for the tremendous progress that has been made over the past eight years. “We were impressed by the enthusiasm of both staff and research students and by their level of commitment to advancing the research agenda.”
The team also noted the increase in the number of postgraduate students, with 60 students currently registered. A number of recommendations were made in the report,  among which were that the school should consider giving educational research a stronger emphasis.
They suggested that the school could consider a review of theoretical assessments and reduce the load for assessment. The school should also seek to establish a more visible presence in clinical areas perhaps by establishing centres of excellence, they added.