College chief to retire early after no-confidence vote

Institute of Technology Tralee chairman, Flan Garvey, who had a plagiarism finding against him overturned on appeal, is to quit almost three years before his term ends.

His decision follows a recent vote of no-confidence by Teachers’ Union of Ireland members at the college and the launch of a review into postgraduate degree validations there after controversy over his 2008 thesis in ITT.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has asked the Higher Education Authority to review expenses at institutes of technology, after it emerged the former Fianna Fáil councillor and ex-mayor of Clare was paid an average €18,000 a year by the college from 2005 to 2011. Most other governors got less than €1,000 a year on average, but Mr Garvey said he was entitled to all expenses he received as he lives 160km from IT Tralee.

He told the governing body on Monday evening he had decided to retire as chairman on Jul 31, and it was announced by the college after staff were told yesterday morning.

“The governing body accepted Mr Garvey’s decision and in doing so acknowledged his significant contribution to the institute during his term as chairman since 2001,” it said.

The college has told the Department of Education about Mr Garvey’s decision and said it would make no further comment. It will be up to Mr Quinn to appoint a new chairperson.

Mr Garvey was reappointed to the role in the final days of the previous Fianna Fáil-Green government and his term was due to run until Feb 2016, having returned to the chair last week. He asked his deputy chair to carry out his duties in December during an investigation into a claim by 26 ITT academics that he plagiarised other works in his 2008 MA thesis on the history of his local parish.

The minister said earlier this month that people would have to review their positions when the full facts become publicly available. He was responding to questions from the Irish Examiner about the impact of the issues for governance at the college, particularly the finding of external investigators that Mr Garvey did not fully inform himself of academic rules for his MA thesis.

A motion passed by ITT’s TUI branch three weeks ago said it was not in the college’s interest for him to continue as chair.

Mr Garvey did his MA at IT Tralee but it was awarded by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, which was incorporated into Quality and Qualifications Ireland last year. QQI announced it is to carry out a statutory review of postgraduate research degree validation and processes at the college because of issues raised in the college’s report on the plagiarism investigation.

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