NUI Galway accepts flaws in appointment process and promotes three staff

NUI Galway is to promote three staff members to the post of senior lecturer after accepting a flaw in the appointment process earlier this year. At this week’s meeting of the institute's Governing Authority a recommendation to promote the staff was accepted, following "scoring errors" in the promotion process.

However, it is not yet clear if promotions are being offered to five female staff members who contend they were discriminated against on gender grounds.

The University will not confirm the names of any of those being promoted as a result of today's decision.

There has been criticism of NUI Galway's process for appointing senior lecturers.

Last month, NUI Galway was instructed by the Equality Tribunal to immediately promote a female academic and pay her €70,000 in damages. The ruling came after the tribunal found that the college had discriminated against her on the grounds of her gender.

Dr Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington applied for a senior lectureship post at the university in 2009 but was not appointed.

The Tribunal ruling found numerous flaws with the 2009 interview process which it called "ramshackle".

Earlier this month, Dr Sheehy-Skeffington announced that she was donating the award to five female academics who all applied for promotion at the same time but were unsuccessful.

The five, all currently working at the college, intend to fight a similar case. All failed in 2009 and again in 2013 to gain promotion from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer level.

One of the five, history lecturer Róisín Healy said that while she and her four colleagues were confident the University would engage with them on their grievances, they still intended to lodge civil claims against the college in the Circuit Court this week. She said they would prefer not to go down this route but were mindful of the Statute of Limitations.

She said none of the five had been told they were being offered promotions after today's meeting.The University has committed to reviewing the process for appointing senior lecturers and is to establish an independent task force to review polices regarding gender equality.

Following a meeting of the University's Governing Authority today, the University has agreed the following recommendations in respect of the development of the University's policies and procedures with regard to gender equality:

1. Review the Senior Lecturer promotion process in the light of the 2008/09 experience and also the more recent 2013/14 promotion round.

2. Establish a Task Force to review the University's existing policies and procedures with regard to gender equality and to make recommendations to enhance those policies and procedures. The Governing Authority agreed that the Task Force should be chaired by an external, independent and appropriately experienced Chair.

3. The University has committed through its Strategic Planning process, to develop a programme of gender equality initiatives through the international Athena Swan programme. This Award was set up to promote best practice in combatting gender under-representation, specifically for women’s careers in higher education and research.

Athena Swan will provide a framework to enable the University to set itself realistic but stretching targets to move towards greater gender equality.

4. It is clear from the recent Higher Education Authority Report on gender division in senior academic posts in Irish Higher Education that gender equality is an issue for the whole Higher Education sector in Ireland. The University intends to write to the Irish University Association and the Higher Education Authority to request that the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC ) be approached to carry out an Equality Review of the entire Higher Education sector.

In addition, the Governing Authority today received a report of the recommendations of the Senior Lecturer Appeals Board for the 2014 promotions round. The Governing Authority accepted a recommendation of the report to promote to Senior Lecturer status additional three staff members as a result of a number of scoring errors in the 2014 Senior Lecturer promotion process.


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