UL's new president 'appalled' by revelations on RTE programme

The new President of the University of Limerick Dr Des Fitzgerald has said he was "appalled" by the revelations on last night's RTÉ Investigates programme about governance and management issues at the university.

In the role just three weeks, Dr Fitzgerald has asked the Department of Education to carry out an independent review led by Dr Richard Thorn, which he said he hoped would re-build trust in the institution.

This review will do a root-and-branch examination of the institution and a separate review under Professor Mary O'Sullivan will look at governance matters.

Speaking on the Sean O'Rourke programme today, he said he wanted to make it clear that the issues involved relate to governance and management issues and not academic matters at the university.

Dr Fitzgerald said that the review would allow him to be provided with independently, verified and collected information that would inform him how best to make correct decisions going forward.

He said he was especially concerned about how the whistle-blowers were treated despite the fact the issues they raised were valid and yet they have left or were suspended from the institution.

He also expressed concern about the large severance payments made to some people and certain conflict of interests.

Dr Fitzgerald said he hopes to develop a new management structure and to appoint a chief operations officer as Vice President to develop better corporate functions and structure and focus on academic programmes.

He said he has a duty of care to the staff and former staff and is concerned about the damage to the university's reputation, a place he said that local people are very proud of.

He said he does not want to lose the trust of the public, the Department or the HEA and we must find a way to re-build that trust.

A view of the UL campus

Meanwhile , the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) also raised concerns.

USI President Annie Hoey said: "Students and the taxpayer fund our higher education institutions. It is crucial that we have trust in their governance. Students in Ireland currently pay the second highest fees in Europe and now we are concerned how these fees are being spent."

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