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Public service activities among University staff


  • Sanna Nivakoski

    (UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy)

  • Philip O'Connell

    (UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy)

  • Mark Hargaden

    (UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy)


University staff frequently engage in Public Service Activities (PSAs), over and above their core roles, making a valuable contribution to society and the economy, although little is known about such activity. This study examines the extent of PSA among university staff - both academic and non-academic. The data come from a survey carried out in 2014 of the staff of University College Dublin (UCD), an Irish research university with a wide disciplinary coverage. The survey collected information about whether staff have taken part in PSAs and the amount of time spent engaging in these activities. Overall, 59 per cent of UCD academics and senior administrative staff report having taken part in PSAs over the past 12 months. The most common type of PSA is public engagement which encompasses talks, lectures and involvement in public debate through various media. Academic staff are much more likely than administrative staff to engage in PSA, but there is a significant contribution also from senior administrative staff. PSA engagement varies by discipline (with Arts and Humanities staff having the highest rates of PSA), by seniority and by length of tenure. Among those who have taken part in PSAs, the mean total yearly number of hours engaged in these activities is 167, ranging from 122 hours among researchers to 218 hours among professors. We estimate that all academics and senior administrators at UCD contributed over 150,000 hours in PSA over the course of the 2013-14 academic year, with an estimated value of nearly €11.5 million.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanna Nivakoski & Philip O'Connell & Mark Hargaden, 2015. "Public service activities among University staff," Working Papers 201504, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201504

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