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12 May, 2017 - Statement by Minister Bruton regarding University of Limerick

At the request of the University of Limerick my Department, in consultation with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), have agreed to conduct an independent review into the governance, HR and financial practices and procedures at the University of Limerick. 

This decision arises from a number of protected disclosures and other complaints received from employees and former employees of the University.   There have been a number of steps taken to address the issues raised, including the Mazar’s report whose recommendations the HEA have been working closely with UL to implement.

I also met individually with the whistleblowers to receive their cases.  My Department and I, along with the HEA, have now agreed on this course of action to conduct an independent review to address the issues raised and ensure that robust policies for the future are in place.

My Department and the HEA have finalised the terms of reference for the review.  The HEA will oversee the review and the HEA have proceeded to appoint Mr Richard Thorn, President Emeritus of Sligo Institute of Technology as the appropriate independent external reviewer to conduct the review. 

The HEA Executive will support the reviewer in general administration, analysis of material and gathering of relevant data as required.

It is expected that the final review will be completed and submitted to the HEA by 30th September 2017.

Notes to Editor:

 

Terms of Reference

 The terms of reference of the review are as follows:

  1. The reviewer will receive details of the allegations from the disclosers and any other persons who feel that there are matters of concern or of public interest relating to the University of Limerick that need to be addressed.
  2. Where appropriate, the reviewer will interview or consult with the disclosers, other persons and relevant members of staff in the University in relation to the matters identified. The reviewer may revert to any party if further clarification or information is required.
  3. On the basis of the information received, the reviewer will:

·        Determine whether the allegations require further examination and whether, on the balance of probabilities, the allegations are well-founded;

·        Where allegations have been determined as well-founded, prepare a report that shall make findings or recommendations on the steps to be taken by the University including  governance, HR, financial and administrative processes as well as overall organisational culture;

·        Examine the application of wider HR policies and processes in the University. This will cover the governance arrangements and practices around the use of severance payments.

·        Consider specifically and report on the recommendations in the Mazars report which have yet to be implemented.

  1. The reviewer will consult with the Department and HEA as required and provide regular updates to them.
  2. The reviewer will present his/her final report, including any findings or recommendations, to all parties (the disclosers and other persons, the University, the Department and the HEA).

Approach to the Review

The HEA will oversee the review and will commission an appropriate independent external reviewer to conduct the exercise. It is estimated that the review will take 20-25 working days to complete. The HEA Executive will support the reviewer in general administration, analysis of material and gathering of relevant data as required.

All parties will collaborate fully with the review and respond promptly and in full to requests from the reviewer for information, documents and other records.

Timeframe

It is expected that the review will be completed by 30th September 2017. In the event that it is not practicable to make a final report within this timeframe, an interim report will be provided.