2017 Press Releases

Prof. Michael Murphy first Irish person elected to EUA Board

2 May 2017
Professor Michael Murphy Murphy, nominated by the Irish Universities Association, is the first Irish person ever to be elected to the European University Association (EUA) Board. Photo: Clare Keogh.

Professor Michael Murphy, former President of UCC, has become the first Irish person ever to be elected to the Board of Directors of the European University Association (EUA). 

The Association represents over 850 European universities and National Rectors Conferences in 47 countries, and is charged with influencing EU and national policies on education and research while presenting the face of European higher education to the representative bodies of other global regions. Prof. Murphy was nominated by the Irish Universities Association.

Professor Hana Machkova, Rector of the University of Economics in Prague; Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, President of Science Europe were also elected to the eight-person board at the EUA’s annual conference in Bergen, Norway.

Having served on the Council of EUA for five years, Prof. Murphy attributed his success among the electorate (the Heads of all member universities), in part to recognition of service, but also to other influences.

“The standing of a candidate’s home university mattered; the general appreciation across Europe of the manner in which Irish universities generally have maintained strong performance, resilience in the face of extraordinary reductions in state funding, was widely noted.”

There may even have been an element of sympathy, he believes. “Data presented at the conference, themed Autonomy and freedom: the future sustainability of universities this year, revealed the extraordinary additional challenges posed to Irish universities by our government. 

Reporting on the evolution of key measures of university autonomy across Europe during the past decade EUA researchers revealed that while Ireland performs very strongly (third in Europe) in supports for academic freedom, the country has fallen to second last, ahead only of Hungary, in measures of freedom to manage university staff effectively”. 

Co-incidentally the EUA Assembly issued a strong statement of censure of the Hungarian Government following passage of new legislation this month endeavouring to close its most successful institution (The Central European University in Budapest).

Such was the concern of EUA at events in Ireland that it invited a conference briefing, specifically on measures of autonomy in staffing, by Professor Andrew Deeks, President of University College Dublin, juxtaposed against a briefing by Professor Stephen Hwang, Vice Chancellor of Halmstad University, outlining the performance benefits of the freedoms enjoyed by Swedish institutions.

Prof. Murphy also acknowledged invaluable campaigning assistance from staff in the School of Languages at UCC in translating position papers submitted to the various National Rectors Conferences. He expressed deep appreciation for support from Lewis Purser, Permanent Irish Representative to the Secretary General’s Group at EUA. 

In his four-year term, Prof. Murphy has committed to working on measures to enhance EUA impact among its constituent universities and on EU policymakers.

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