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Universities have shifted from being a public good to commercialised research backups for the private sector – a circumstance denounced by the Defend the Irish University campaign launched at the end of November. Initiated by the Irish Federation of University Teachers and the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) the campaign aims at raising awareness of massive public funding cuts in Irish higher education and the transformation of Irish universities to business entities with the exclusive objective of profit maximisation.
Formed around a group of academics at the Dublin City University (DCU), the launch of the campaign had been announced at the end of October. During a public forum at DCU, participants were given the opportunity to discuss the commercialisation developments of public universities in Ireland and elsewhere. The petition campaign draws attention to the original aim of universities as centres of knowledge and research in contrast to their currently growing role as contributors to profit margins of corporations. Strongly backed by academics and their concerns for further budget cuts, the campaign wants to curb the exclusively economist approach to higher education.