Healthy Systems

Night thoughts of a jobbing epidemiologist

Paying for third level – a fairer alternative to fees?

There are two widely held beliefs about paying for third level. The first is that universities cannot continue to be largely funded from general taxation, as at present. The second is that Irish universities are underfunded, and this is why they have slipped down the league tables. As a result there is a modest panic about paying for universities. Prof. Michael Murphy, the president of UCC, in an interview with Sean Kelly (Irish.. Read More

Using R in research education

I’m at the UserR! 2010 conference at NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This is the main annual event for R users. there have been whole series of presentations on using R in education. The full program lists the Pedagogic talks (3 sessions, and 9 talks, on the first day). What I’ve seen so far is great work on training people in data analysis, in statistics and (to some extent) in probability, The work is.. Read More

Abolishing Fas?

Deputy Ruairi Quinn has called for Fas to be abolished and its budget diverted to the IT sector. While I share his frustration with the running of Fas, it is, I believe, a serious mistake to think that it can easily be replaced. Just as the IT’s and the universities have different and complementary roles, so Fas fills a vital slot in the educational landscape. No-one else has the same combination of guidance,.. Read More

John Nelder has died

Prof. John Nelder, one of the more remarkable British statisticians, has died, at the age of 85. I never had the good fortune to meet him, but his work had a great influence on me. McCullagh and Nelder, Generalized Linear Models, was my first technical statistics book, as an epidemiology PhD student, and I used Genstat, which he originated, throughout my PhD. His clear explanations have stayed with me, and I am proud.. Read More