Lecturers, researchers and administrative staff at Dublin City University (DCU) have launched a charter to reclaim Irish universities from excessive commercialisation and corporate influence. The charter will be discussed at a meeting in DCU at 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 23rd. The ‘Defend the Irish University’ charter which is initiated by the SIPTU Section Committee at DCU, with support from staff in other colleges and from the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), sets out ten principles which can be endorsed in an online petition at http://t9.ie/diu. The meeting will be chaired by RTE Education Correspondent, Emma O’Kelly, and will be addressed by Prof. Mary Gallagher (UCD) and Prof. Des Freedman (Goldsmiths). “We are calling on members, and anyone who is interested, to attend the meeting in DCU on Wednesday. It is imperative that we all join in the debate about our University sector,” said SIPTU Organiser, Louise O’Reilly. “The charter has been proposed in the context of an intense transformation of higher education in Ireland and globally, with private interests dictating the shape of university courses in pursuit of a narrow market agenda. At the same time, public investment in universities has slumped, even as student numbers swell on an unprecedented scale,” she said. Defending our universities is essential for those who work in them in every capacity because the provision of education is a public good and is not, and should not, be regarded as a saleable commodity, said Prof. Ronald Munck, one of the authors of the charter. “We are at a point in the Irish universities where we either accept the steady decline of funding and morale or stand up for an alternative vision of what a university can be. It is time we have a proper debate on the purpose of our universities before current moves to dumb them down succeed,” Prof. Munck said.