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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

Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday

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A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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