Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - UCD Night Students.

49.

asked the Minister for Education what steps, if any, his Department have taken to encourage UCD to increase the number of places available for night students.

50.

asked the Minister for Education if there have been any further approaches by his Department to the governing body of UCD requesting that their decision to introduce a three year cycle for the evening arts degree be rescinded.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take questions Nos. 49 and 50 together.

It will be recalled that, in reply to questions in this House following the publication of the governing body's decision on 1st July, 1970, I undertook to make known to the college authorities the concern of Deputies and my own concern in the matter. This I did by way of correspondence and through a meeting with representatives of the college during the course of the past year. I expressed disappointment that facilities should be curtailed for students who would benefit from attendance at university courses leading to degrees in arts and who for one reason or another did not have the opportunity of attending such courses as day students.

Notwithstanding my representations the governing body decided to adhere to its original decision. It will be appreciated that there is no further action which I can usefully take in the matter since, under the provisions of their Charter, the college is enabled, without reference to me, to determine what courses it shall provide.

Could I ask the Minister if he is aware that in view of the recent increase in fees at university college an increasing number of intending students will not be able to take their places there and there will be a far greater demand among the leaving certificate group to attend night classes at UCD? Could he not use his office in some way, or the money which these people are paying in tax, to enable them to go to university at night, to provide night classes for them where they can get higher education, which they want? I think this is a disgrace.

I have certainly made my own views known as well as those of Deputies.

Why can the Minister not do something at Government level and put the money where the voice of his Department is?

I would also point out to the Deputy that in information with which I was supplied in October, 465 had applied to take the evening art courses and there were 600 places. I am not making any case out of that because I know that if you took each year separately it would be a different matter. Nevertheless, that was the figure that was given to me some time ago.

To put this in language which is rather crude by the standards. I normally use in this House: Is Deputy Byrne not correct and does the Minister's answer to this, as to so many other questions, not boil down to his reply to this: will the Minister put his money where his mouth is?

Hear, hear. That is exactly what we are asking the Minister to do.

As soon as I attempted to do that there would be a squeal that would be heard in Washington about my interference with rights and so on.

Would the Minister not appreciate that there is considerable support from the Opposition benches in regard to this matter, that we would not squeal at all, that we would commend to the Minister that he should take action——

I am not simply referring to the Opposition benches.