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CITY TRIBUNE

NUI Galway accused of ‘exploiting’ postgrad students

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NUIG

Postgraduate students at NUIG have said they will refuse to perform unpaid teaching, in the latest escalation of an ongoing dispute over pay.

Around 140 mostly PhD researchers, and some lecturers, from the Postgraduate Workers Alliance (PWA), have told university president Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, that they will not carry out any work, “which is not remunerated at the existing collectively bargained rate”.

In a letter to the NUIG head, and copied to Minister for Higher and Further Education, Simon Harris, the postgrad workers said concerns they raised earlier this year have not been adequately dealt with.

“We have no option but to make it clear that we do not recognise any expectation of unpaid work as legitimate,” they said.

More than 400 people signed an online petition earlier this year expressing concern over the “unfair working environment” at NUIG, and the “continued exploitation” postgraduates and researchers.

At the time they highlighted concerns about the tendency to rely on precarious and often unpaid work by PhD students, “to cover ever more diverse teaching needs across the university”.

In the latest letter highlighting their concerns, the PWA said: “The arrangements whereby postgraduates carry out teaching or related academic duties is exploitative and unjust during ‘normal’ times, and this unfairness is even more palpable, given postgraduates are now expected to carry out these duties on the front lines of a global pandemic.”

Describing postgraduates as ‘valuable and valued members of the university community’, NUIG said it was working to address their concerns, at an institutional and sectoral level.

It pointed out that the National Framework for Doctoral Education agreed nationally, acknowledges that the skills developed through doctoral education should “relate both to the research process itself and to broader professional training and development”.

“The core component of our research programmes is the advancement of knowledge through original research. Contributing to teaching is also an integral part of the training of a research Master’s or PhD student. It assists in the acquisition of generic and transferable skills and is the norm in the sector,” a spokesperson said.

Responsibility for teaching contribution allocation across NUIG is devolved to the teaching unit, usually at school level.

And normally all PhD students make contributions of a maximum of 120 hours a year – approximately five hours per week over 24 weeks over three academic years.

NUIG added: “During the period of Covid restrictions, no research supervisor or line manager will be expected to impel a research student to undertake an on-campus teaching contribution.

“If a research student is not in a position to undertake an on-campus teaching contribution, they may be allocated alternate forms of teaching contribution. Research student funding, through award of a scholarship stipend, does not, in NUIG or elsewhere, imply a contract of employment. The purpose of scholarship funding is to provide financial support to the students during their research degree.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Matriarch of Scotty’s Diner donates kidney to her son!

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A well-known family in the Galway restaurant trade have swapped chef whites for hospital gowns after the matriarch donated a kidney to her son.

Jenny and Andrew Ishmael, synonymous with Scotty’s Diner in Cúirt na Coiribe on the Headford Road in Terryland, are recovering in Beaumont Hospital after the marathon live donor operation.

It took place last Monday and staff are so impressed by the quick recovery of mother and son that they could be discharged as early as this weekend.

“It went really well. I’m still a bit sore. We’re still on the mend. It’s working perfectly,” says Andrew from the isolation ward of the hospital’s Kidney Centre.  “My creatine was over 1,000 when I came in and it’s already around 260.

“I felt weak after the surgery, but I could feel that bit of life in me again straight away. It’s amazing how quick it works. Mom wasn’t too great after the surgery – it was her first ever. She was quite sore, a bit iffy, but she’s good now.

“We have rooms back-to-back. We’ve been going for walks, going for breakfast together. It’s nice to spend that time together.”

Andrew – or Drew as he’s known to family and friends –  was diagnosed with kidney disease when he was just 16.

Berger’s Disease occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin builds up in the kidneys and results in inflammation, which over time, can hamper the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.

He managed the condition well for over a decade without too much impact on his life.

The son of classically trained chefs who studied together at Johnson and Wales College in Rhode Island, he grew up working in his parents’ American-style diner, trading since 1991.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

New River Corrib rescue boat to be deployed following ‘significant donation’

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The provision of a specialist rescue craft on the Corrib – upstream from the Weir – could now happen over the coming weeks or months following a ‘significant voluntary donation’ in the past few weeks, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

Water safety issues on the Corrib were highlighted last month when up to 10 rowers had to be rescued after their two boats were sucked in by the currents towards the Weir.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the potentially catastrophic incident which occurred around midday on Saturday, January 14.

A specialist D Class lifeboat is now being sourced as part of a multi-agency approach to try and improve emergency rescue operations upstream from the Weir which would be accessible on a 24/7 basis.

While the cost would be in the region of €40,000 to €50,000, the overall figure would rise to around €80,000 to €90,000 when specialist personnel training costs were included.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune that he was aware of a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try and get the Corrib rescue craft in place as soon as possible.

“I suppose we’re all trying to work together to ensure that a full-time rescue craft is provided on the Corrib and I believe that real progress is being made in this regard. This would be very good news for everyone,” said Mr Swan.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Three years on and ‘Changing Places’ facility on Salthill Promenade still not open

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Mayor of Galway, Cllr Clodagh Higgins at the site of the Changing Places facility, for which she had ring-fenced money. Work on the project only began last February, despite initial predictions that the facility would be open in January last year.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The wait for accessible, specialised toilet facilities at Ladies Beach in Salthill goes on – three years after they were ‘prioritised’ by city councillors.

Galway City Council has confirmed to the Tribune this week that the ‘Changing Places’ facility at Ladies Beach is still not open.

Construction of the facility began almost a year ago, at the end of February 2022.

The local authority confirmed that some €135,600 has been spent on the unit, which is not yet open to the public.

“The initial stages of construction went well, with the facility now largely in place. There are a number of outstanding snags to be completed before the facility can open.

“Galway City Council is liaising with the contractor to complete out these snags, with a view to opening the facility as soon as possible,” a spokesperson said.

The local authority did not elaborate on what ‘snags’ were delaying the project.

But in January, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, suggested that staffing issues were to blame for the delay.

(Photo: Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins, at the site of the Changing Places facility, for which she had ring-fenced money).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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