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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 17 Apr 1980

Vol. 319 No. 8

National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Bill, 1980: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Before we reported progress I had mentioned that I was disappointed with Deputy Collins's analysis of the Bill——

That was expected.

——and felt that he relied for too much on the circulars sent to Members of the House with regard to the Bill. The point I was making was that there seemed to be a very serious lack of logic in Deputy Collins's argument. He claimed that if there were a fairly strong degree of State control with regard to third-level institutions the education provided by, and the graduates of, that institution would necessarily suffer in quality and standard. I was also making the point that this was not so and that, in certain European institutions, the degree of control was beyond anything envisaged in our society and yet the standard of graduates and the input they made into the economic life of the country was very high.

With the secretary of my Department I had the privilege of visiting Eindhoven technological university in Holland some time ago. Not merely did I find one stratum of control there but there were two, one representing the Queen of the Netherlands and the other representing the Department of Education. It is generally agreed that the standard of achievement in that university is of a very high order. One of the points that became very obvious was that the old problem in Ireland of being anxious to be finished quickly with and to be qualified from third-level—and second-level—education was not something the Dutch people agreed with. The average period spent in that technological university before graduation was six-and-a-half years, although the scheduled period was five years, and those students started university much later than our students come to university or to our technological institutes.

Many points made by Deputy Collins, as were observed by the Chair, were matters for the Committee Stage. As I said in my opening speech, I will deal with those minutiae and with the representation in the Seanad and in the Assembly of the European Communities on Committee Stage. I think I heard, if not a note of approval, a grunt of approval from somebody on the Opposition side.

One point I thought Deputy Collins might have developed more because of his experience in the administration of a regional technical college was the linkage between the RTCs and the NIHE, Limerick—the same will apply to the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, which we are getting under way this year. Some people who wrote to us about the Bill had vested interests in certain angles, but I have to look at the matter from the national point of view, although individual rights, claims and expectations have to be taken into consideration.

The question of the National Council for Educational Awards, of which Deputy Collins made a great deal, was one I thought had been sufficiently debated and the air had been cleared. I want to put on the record that it is my clear and unequivocal determination that the NCEA will be the awarding body at certificate, diploma and particularly degree-awarding levels for the NIHEs. It is important the House should have a clear statement on that.

With regard to the general tone of the Deputy's contribution and his fears of interference from my Department, I would like to make the point I made at the initiation ceremony at the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. We are a small country of limited resources. We are a little late in the field of technological education, although the colleges in Dublin, the RTCs since they were established, and NIHE are making up ground fast. We should keep an eye on what happened elsewhere and learn from the mistakes of others.

At Ballymun I referred to the dangers of academic drift, of institutions moving away from the primary objectives for which they were established. I repeat that this is a luxury we cannot afford, that the regional technical colleges and the NIHEs are firmly grounded in the technological and business areas, and consequently we look at them as having that field to themselves, not exclusively of course, and that any drift away from that will not necessarily be for the benefit of education in Ireland or the institutions themselves.

I am glad that Deputy Horgan agrees with the decision of the Fianna Fáil Government at the time not to bow to pressure, which was high and for the very best reasons, in regard to the Limerick university project. The decision was a far-seeing one. As I said in my opening remarks, the decision to have an institute for the development of technological education has been more than validated by the passage of time and from experience of the performance of those who have graduated from the institute in its short history.

I am glad to see that Deputy Horgan is pleased with the co-operative education programme. McGee in the North has made great progress, even though the area was snubbed in not getting the second university. There they have made great progress particularly in the adult education field. They have the advantage of having the great Philips factory nearby and there is a strong link with that and other factories.

The importance of vertical mobility is something I will come back to again and again. We have a wide spread of regional technical colleges and the intention to have an even wider spread, and it is important that the road should be open to students to go into the national institutes and progress to degree and post-graduate studies.

Deputy Horgan gave considerable thought, at the usual deep level he gives to these things, to the question of autonomy. The function and role I see for the institutes in Limerick and Dublin are motivated not by any ideas of pseudo freedom. They must not be allowed to divert to a role for which they were not originally intended.

I thank Deputies for the interest they have taken in the Bill. I look forward to the Committee Stage being taken at an early date. I know from experience in putting the National Council for Educational Awards Bill through the House that Members will have a contribution to make. Their points and suggestions in this debate have been listened to and if necessary they will be incorporated by way of amendments. I myself have a number of matters to be added and I will be relying on the House to support me in them. Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil arís leis na Teachtaí a labhair. Tá a fhios agam go mbeidh díospóireacht bhríomhar againn ar an gCoiste ar mhaithe le oideachas agus an phobal uile.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 49: Níl, 26.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Filgate, Eddie.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Fox, Christopher J.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Dennis.
  • Gallagher, James.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keegan, Seán.
  • Kileen, Tim.
  • Killiea, Mark.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Loughnane, William.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Murphy, Ciarán P.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connor, Timothy C.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Power, Paddy.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael J.
  • Wyse, Pearse.


  • Barry, Myra.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • D'Arcy, Michael J.
  • Deasy, Martin A.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan-Monaghan).
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Horgan, John.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • L'Estrange, Gerry.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Brien, William.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Moore and Briscoe; Níl, Deputies L'Estrange and Horgan.
Question declared carried.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

This day week, subject to agreement with the Whips.

Subject to agreement with the Whips.

This day fortnight, subject to agreement with the Whips.

I would push for this day week.

Have we agreed on this day week?

Subject to discussion between the Whips.

Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 24 April 1980.