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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 29 Oct 1980

Vol. 323 No. 6

National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, Bill, 1980: Second Stage .

: I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

Molaim an dara léamh a thabhairt don Bhille seo chun An Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Baile Átha Cliath, a chur ar bhonn reachtúil. Is mór an pleisiúr dom an chaoi seo a bheith agam chomh luath i saol an fhorais nua. Mar is eol don Teach bhí an Foras Náisiúnta i Luimneach faoi lán tseol ar feadh roinnt blianta sul ar ritheadh an Bille ina leith. Ba mhaith liom a rá ag an dtráth seo go bhfuil an Bille nua seo ar aon dul leis an mBille sin. Phléamar an Bille i leith an Fhorais i Luimneach go mion sa Teach seo agus sa Seanad. Sna toscaí tá súil agam go mbeidh ar ár gcumas glacadh leis an mBille seo gan an iliomad aithris ar na díospóireachtaí a bhí ann le linn don Bhille faoi Luimneach a bheith á phlé againn. Na hathruithe a deineadh de thoradh na díospóireachtaí sin, tá a rian le feiceáil ar an mBille seo freisin agus measaim go ritheann sé le réasún go mbeadh na Billí don dá fhoras ar an dul céanna.

Measaim go mba chóir dom anois cuid bheag de chúlra an scéil a thabhairt i láthair. I 1969 do hiarradh ar an Udarás um Árd Oideachas tairiscint a fuarthas ó Choiste Ghairm Oideachais Bhaile Átha Cliath maidir le bunú coláiste nua Teicneolaíochta agus Tráchtála i mBaile Munna a scrúdú agus moltaí ina leith a chur faoi bhráid an Aire Oideachais, Ins an tuarascáil ón Údarás um Ard-Oideachas, a cuireadh ar fáil i mí na Nollag 1970 moladh go n-aithneófaí an géar-ghá a bhí le níos mó saoráidí oideachais den triú leibhéal i mBaile Átha Cliath, go mór mhór i limistéar na teicneolaíochta. Thaobhuigh an t-Údarás um Ard-Oideachas leis an tairiscint go mbunófaí an coláiste nua i mBaile Munna dá mbeadh na h-údaráis chuí go léir sásta nach raibh suíomh níos lárnaí ar fáil. Ghlac an tAire Oideachais leis na moltaí seo agus shíolraigh An Foras Náisiúnta um Ard Oideachas i mBaile Átha Cliath as an mbreith sin.

The National Coalition Government's decisions of 13 December 1974 in relation to higher education included the following in relation to the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin:

(i) The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin shall be a recognised college of either of the Dublin universities with the capacity to evolve into a constituent college of one or other of the Dublin universities or to become an autonomous degree-awarding institution.

(ii) The majority of the members of the Governing Body of the NIHE Dublin shall be nominated by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister for Education and shall include representatives from the trade unions, agriculture, business, industry and educational interests.

(iii) A Council for Technological Education, later restyled National Council for Educational Awards, shall be established to plan and co-ordinate courses and to validate and award non-degree third-level qualifications in the NIHE Dublin, and other institutions.

(iv) The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin shall be a designated institution for the purposes of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971.

(v) The Governing Body of the NIHE Dublin shall consist of 25 members.

On 5 March 1975 the Government approved a list of names of persons to be invited to act on the governing body of the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. An acting director was appointed on 18 June 1975 and the first meeting of the governing body was held on 19 June 1975. The terms of reference of the governing body include responsibility for the planning, in consultation with my Department, of the form and structure of the institute, the courses and staffing requirements, and all other details of the new institution, and for making recommendations to the Minister for Education consequent on these consultations. The term of office of this ad hoc governing body has been extended until the institute are established on a statutory basis.

I must record my appreciation of the work of the governing body. It is a challenging task, but never simple, to oversee the establishment and development of a new institution. We were fortunate to have a group of people who were generous with their time and expertise.

On 14 December 1976, the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin was designated by the then Minister for Education as an institution of higher education for the purposes of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971. A director for the institute was appointed on a permanent basis and took up duty on 21 March 1977.

When I became Minister for Education, one of my first actions as Minister was to restore to the National Council for Educational Awards their degree awarding function. On 18 November 1977, I announced that the NCEA were to be the degree-awarding authority in the case of students who successfully completed degree level courses in the NIHE, Dublin—and also in the NIHE, Limerick, the Thomond College of Education and the regional technical colleges.

In May 1978, the Government decided that the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin would be a third level educational institution offering degree, diploma and certificate courses with a mainly technological bias and that the institute would cater for students in the Dublin area and the country generally. The Government authorised me to negotiate for the acquisition of the site at Ballymun and to invite tenders for the building of phase I of the institute—a college of commerce capable of accommodating 800 students.

One of the major problems in establishing a new institution of this type in the Dublin area is the difficulty of obtaining a suitably located site big enough to provide adequately for the requirements of the institution. The price of land in the Dublin area adds considerably to the cost of the project. Before finally deciding on the Ballymun site a number of other possible locations were considered. Either these were too small in area, or they were too far out from the city centre and required vast investment in infrastructure—roads, water, sewage and other services. The site at Ballymun was finally decided on as the most feasible site available.

Renovation work on part of the existing Albert College buildings commenced in January 1980 and has only recently been completed, providing about 3,000 square metres of accommodation. Work on the new commerce building also commenced in January 1980 and it is expected that the commerce building will be ready for occupation in autumn 1981.

The commerce building will accommodate 800 students and the renovated part of the Albert College buildings about 200. The total cost of site purchase, construction works, and equipping these two buildings will be in the region of £6½ million.

Due to the delay in completing the renovation work at the Albert College buildings, the first group of students will not be admitted to the institute until 11 November 1980. To compensate for this late opening the institute will continue their summer term into July 1981.

The demand for places in the institute has been so high that the accommodation is being pushed to the limit and a bigger number of students will be admitted than originally intended with the limited facilities. About 240 students will be admitted to six degree courses—business studies, accounting and finance, computer applications, communications studies, analytical science and electronic engineering.

The form of selection of students is based on leaving certificate results plus aptitude tests. About 55 per cent of students will come from outside Dublin city and county indicating that the institute are national in their appeal. About 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the students will be mature students, showing the institute's commitment in this area. The programmes will be practically oriented and the institute will operate a system of monitored industrial placement. The benefits for all concerned of this type of relevant practical work experience are important. The student gains useful experience and an advance insight into his eventual working environment. Employers become familiar with the abilities and skills of the institute's graduates and a very valuable feedback is provided between academics and employers on the requirements of industry and on the new and different skills available.

The role of industrial liaison is most important in any technological institute. The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, are already moving to implement this role in different ways. In addition to the industrial placement element of courses, the institute are considering part-time courses for industry and business. They have recently appointed a head of industrial liaison to develop and co-ordinate the institute's interaction with industry. Many of the senior staff have come direct from industry, some of them being Irish returning from abroad, and industrialists sit on academic selection boards.

The outline and structure of the courses have already been approved by the National Council for Educational Awards and the first two years—in some cases the entire four years—of each programme have been planned in detail by the institute and approved by the council.

The institute have a firm commitment to new technology, and applied research programmes are being devised. All staff have a proven record in research and a commitment to the development of research. The institute have already begun their first research project in the applied physics area with a grant awarded by the National Board for Science and Technology. This underlines the real commitment of the institute to applied research, a fact which has additional significance in that it has been achieved before the students arrive. The next phase of buildings will concentrate heavily on the provision of places for technology—science and engineering—and will provide 2,700 places.

The provisions of the Bill are identical with the provisions of the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Act 1980, passed by both Houses earlier this year.

Section 1 deals with the interpretation of the various terms used in the Bill. Section 2 establishes the institute which shall be known in the Irish language as An Foras Náisiúnta um Ard Oideachas, Baile Átha Cilath, and in the English language as the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. Section 3 defines what is meant by membership of the institute.

Section 4 provides for the functions of the institute. The functions are:

(a) to provide degree level courses, diploma level courses and certificate level courses, and, subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe, such other courses, including post-graduate courses as may seem appropriate to the governing body;

(b) to engage in research in such areas as the governing body may deem appropriate;

(c) subject to the approval of the Minister, after consultation with An tÚdarás

(i) to buy and acquire lands or buildings,

(ii) to institute, and if thought fit, to award scholarships, prizes and other awards,

(d) subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe, to maintain, manage, administer and invest all the money and assets of the institute.

(e) to accept from donors gifts of land, money, or other property upon such trusts and conditions, if any, as may be specified by the donor, provided always that nothing in any such trust or condition is contrary to the provisions of the Act;

(f) subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe, to do all such acts and things as may be necessary to further the objects and development of the institute.

Section 5 provides for the establishment of a governing authority for the institute, to be known as the governing body, and prescribes its structure and functions. More detailed provisions for the operation of the governing body are set out in the First Schedule. The governing body is to consist of a chairman, the director and 23 ordinary members. The chairman and the 23 ordinary members shall be appointed by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister. The manner of appointment of the 23 ordinary members is set out in section 5 (4) and is as follows:

(a) nine shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister in accordance with the provisions of section 5 (5) which draws particular attention to the need for adequate representation of industry, agriculture, fisheries, commerce and the professions;

(b) three shall be appointed who shall be members of the academic staff of the institute who shall be chosen by the academic staff in accordance with regulations made by the governing body;

(c) one shall be appointed who is a member of the non-academic staff of the institute chosen in accordance with regulations made by the governing body;

(d) two shall be appointed who are full time students of the institute chosen in accordance with regulations made by the governing body;

(e) three shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the teaching staffs of the colleges of technology managed by the City of Dublin Vocational Educational Committee;

(f) two shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the teaching staff of regional technical colleges;

(g) two shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the management boards of regional technical colleges; and

(h) one shall be appointed on the recommendation of the governing body of the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick.

Section 6 provides for the functions of the governing body. The governing body shall manage and control all the affairs and property of the institute and shall perform all the functions conferred on the institute by this Act and shall have all such powers as may be necessary under this Act for this purpose. The governing body may from time to time appoint such and so many committees as it thinks proper to assist it in such manner as the governing body shall direct and the governing body may assign to any committee so appointed such duties as it thinks fit. The acts of any such committee shall be subject to confirmation by the governing body unless the governing body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation.

Section 7 provides for a post of chief officer of the institute, to be known as the director. The Second Schedule sets out the conditions governing the appointment of the director.

Section 8 provides for the establishment of an academic council for the institute and prescribes the functions of the council. The academic council acts as specialist advisers to the governing body on academic matters. Its functions relate to the planning, co-ordination, development and overseeing of the educational work of the institute. The membership and terms of office of the academic council are determined by regulations made by the governing body. Section 8 (3) lists particular functions of the council as follows:—

(a) to design, develop and implement appropriate programmes of study;

(b) to make recommendations to the governing body for the establishment of appropriate structures to implement such programmes of study;

(c) to make recommendations to the governing body on programmes for the development of research;

(d) to make recommendations to the governing body for the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students generally;

(e) to make, subject to the approval of the governing body, and to implement the academic regulations of the institute;

(f) to propose to the governing body the form of regulations to be made by the governing body for the conduct of examinations and for the evaluation of academic progress;

(g) to make recommendations to the governing body for the award of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries, prizes or other awards;

(h) to make general arrangements for tutorial or other academic counselling;

(i) to exercise other functions, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, which may be delegated to it by the governing body; and

(j) to implement any regulations which may be made by the governing body concerning any of the matters aforesaid.

With the approval of the governing body, the academic council may establish such and so many committees either consisting wholly or partly of persons who are not members of the institute as it thinks proper to assist the academic council in the performance of its functions and may determine the functions of any committee so established.

Section 10 provides that the staff serving in the ad hoc institute may be transferred to the service of the statutory body and protects the conditions of service, pay and pension rights of the transferred staff, which will not be any less favourable than the conditions they enjoyed while serving as members of the staff of the ad hoc body.

Section 11 places responsibility on the institute to prepare and submit to the Minister, as soon as possible after the passing of the Act, a pension scheme for staff. All provisions of any pension scheme submitted by the institute will be subject to the approval of the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister for the Public Service. Every approved scheme will be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and may be annulled by resolution within 21 sitting days.

Section 12 requires the governing body to submit to the Minister annually a report of the work of the institute. The section also provides that the institute will give the Minister any information about its operation that he may require from time to time.

Section 13 provides that in each year there shall, in accordance with section 12 (2) of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971, be paid by the Higher Education Authority to the institute, out of moneys received by the Authority under section 12 (1) of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971, a grant or grants or such amount or amounts as the Authority thinks fit.

Section 14 requires the institute to keep accounts which must be submitted annually to the Comptroller and Auditor General. When received by the institute the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General must be submitted with the accounts to the Minister. The Minister will lay the accounts before each House of the Oireachtas.

Section 15 enables the institute to charge fees for admission to courses, lectures, examinations, exhibitions or any other event held by the institute or for admission to any event held at the institute.

Section 16 is the usual provision that the expenses incurred by the Minister in the administration of the Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Section 17 provides for the short title and the commencement date.

The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, is being established statutorily at an earlier stage of its development than was the corresponding institution, the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick. But the era of development since 1972 when the NIHE Limerick first opened its doors has brought the focus strongly to bear on the necessity to establish major institutions of this type.

Now, an institution like the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, is not merely accepted, but widely welcomed. Its advent could not be more opportune, at a time when manpower requirements show clearly the need for an increase in the supply of trained technologists. The institute will contribute substantially to meeting this demand, with emphasis on the areas of electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, analytical science, biotechnology and computer applications. The institute completes the integrated, complementary complex in the third-level non-university area, constituted by the RTCs, the Colleges of Technology, the NIHEs and the NCEA. It will interact with the RTCs in the same way as the National Institute for higher Education, Limerick. The National Council for Educational Awards will have an important co-ordinating role to play in awarding credit for council-approved programmes in the various institutions.

This Bill has been modelled on the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Act, 1980, which was discussed in detail in this House earlier this year. I would, therefore, expect a speedy passage for this Bill.

Molaim mar sin an Bille don Dáil mar thogra a bhfuil lán-mhuinín agam as ó thaobh leas na tíre agus an oideachais.

: We have had an in-depth discussion on the NIHE Limerick Bill, 1980 and I have no wish to go over the ground which we covered in that debate, on the Second, Committee, Report or Final Stages. The Minister knows my views on the Bill and I do not wish to delay the House by repeating them. The work done on the NIHE Limerick Bill was worth while and resulted in an Act being passed which was far superior to the Bill introduced on the NIHE Limerick. We did a lot of work on the Bill and we improved it substantially. The Opposition can take some credit for the improvements which were made to the NIHE Limerick Bill in this House. We still have the basic differences of philosophy in relation to the NIHE. I am against restricting the National Institutes for Higher Education, Limerick or Dublin, to getting their awards from the NCEA. I do not think that monopoly is justified.

It would be in the interests of third level education if these institutes had the facility to approach the universities or other award-making bodies for their awards, as well as the NCEA. This would lead to a healthier development of the institutes, to cross-fertilisation of ideas and to a greater degree of mobility between the academic staffs of the universities and the institutes. There are a number of positive advantages in allowing the institutes to go to other award-making sources for their awards. I would hope that there would be cross-fertilisation between the academic staffs. It is very important that there should be and should be seen to be a movement between the two sectors in order to ensure that our standards are maintained and there is a cross-fertilisation of ideas.

The provision in relation to mobility both horizontal and vertical between the students in the NIHE and RTC sectors is important vis-à-vis our universities as well. We have not discussed that in depth in the House. We should state quite clearly that a solid provision must be made for the mobility of students who graduate from the certificate level to diploma level and on to the degree levels in our institutes, our regional colleges and our universities. It is very important that we should have a policy of open access to our universities from our regional technical colleges and our national institutes for higher education.

This should be mentioned more than it has been mentioned to date, because it is an important aspect of our developing education policy.

The composition of the governing body is satisfactory when compared with that in the NIHE, Limerick Bill. I am pleased that a representative is to be appointed from the governing body of NIHE, Limerick. Section 5 (4) (e) provides:

three of those members shall be so appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the teaching staffs of the Colleges of Technology managed by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee;

That is important, as it was in the NIHE, Limerick, Bill where there was a connection between the Thomond College and NIHE Limerick, that NIHE, Dublin, is seen to be co-operating with the colleges of technology and, I would hope, the regional technical colleges in the Dublin area.

Another matter to which I should like to refer is the role of the Higher Education Authority. The Minister is trying to by-pass the HEA when it comes to the development of technical and technological education. I want to state again that I would prefer a comprehensive system of third level education. The HEA is the best vehicle to achieve that. I am convinced the composition of the HEA should be expanded to take into account representation from the non-university sector. Its functions and role should be expanded substantially to ensure the overall development and financing of third level education. In time that could lead to a unified structure at third level which is both logical and necessary if we are to have a proper development of our third level education sector.

There is a danger of duplication of courses and resources which must be avoided. The Minister is very much involved with the RTCs and the other designated institutes come under the HEA. That is wrong. It is unnecessary and, in certain circumstances, it may be somewhat wasteful. This is a basic difference of political philosophy between the Minister and the Fine Gael Party.

The Dublin area is very important in relation to third level education. Because the demands for third level education have become so apparent, there is a need to declare a crisis in the Dublin area. The universities do not seem to be able to cope with the increasing numbers seeking places. The recently announced regional technical colleges for the Dublin area have not been discussed in this House. There was an announcement about the geographical location of some of them, but we got no time plan. We do not know when they will be built. It is vitally important that the Minister should take this opportunity to state in the House what positive action he has taken to establish these regional technical colleges in the Dublin area.

I should like to quote briefly from a report of the NIHE, Dublin, entitled "Plan for the Physical Development of the Institute, May 1978". Paragraph 3.2.2 states:

It is worth nothing that the Institute's Plan projects a need for a minimum additional provision of 9,300 higher education places by 1986 in the Dublin area if Irish participation rates are to match the current European average.

This Physical Plan suggests that a little over half of these places will be provided by the Institute, the remaining places being provided as suggested in 3.2.1.

Paragraph 3.2.1. states:

The Governing Body has discussed the matter of the ultimate student population of the Institute. It is convinced that, in order to retain an overall institutional unity of community and of purpose, it is desirable that its ultimate enrolment should not exceed 5,000 EWTS places.

In proposing this size it also suggests that desirable participation rates as suggested in its Plan can be achieved through the establishment of Regional Technical Colleges in the Greater Dublin Area.

Looking at the overall situation in relation to the demand for third level places, it can be safely said in the context of a rising population that the present third level student population of around 37,000 will double by the end of this decade. Therefore, we need forward planning. There is an urgent need for forward planning in the Dublin area to provide these places. I was pleased to note that the Minister made a statement about the establishment of regional technical colleges in the Dublin area. I should like him to give serious commitment to matters such as time schedules and finances in connection with the establishment of the RTCs because they are urgently required in the Dublin area. If something is not done soon, the Minister and the Government will be doing an injustice to people in the Dublin area.

The situation with regard to what is popularly known as the Dublin Institute of Technology should be discussed on this Bill. There appears to be a conflict of opinion between the Minister and the City of Dublin VEC regarding the future of certain courses——

: No. None whatever.

: ——to be run by the vocational committee. It is important that the position be clarified. The six colleges of technology under the aegis of the City of Dublin VEC have done very good work in the field of technology during the years. This should be acknowledged in this House and I acknowledge it without hesitation. Fine Gael sees the DIT as having a greatly expanded role and they consider it should be given parity of esteem with the NIHE, Dublin. It should be given the necessary finance and resources to undertake the tasks allocated to it. Fine Gael would like to see the colleges of technology designated under the HEA Act. We would support implementation of the proposals contained in the report of the working party on higher technological education in the Dublin area which was produced in 1976. We would transfer certain higher level courses from the Dublin colleges to NIHE, Dublin. We believe this would be in the best interests of the longer-term development of non-university educational development in the Dublin area.

We would like to see the colleges of technology given autonomous structures. We feel that third level colleges are entitled to this. It would enable them to respond to local needs and to develop an independent policy in relation to their own future. We consider this a political objective that is worthy of attainment. I hope the Minister and the City of Dublin VEC will come to satisfactory terms in relation to the transfer of these higher level colleges to the Dublin Institute of Technology and that there will be co-operation between all involved in this area.

However, we need a higher commitment from the Minister and the Government in relation to the resources being made available in the technological sector. The 1980 budget will not give encouragement to anyone when one takes into account the increase in population and the predictions in relation to demand for places in the university and non-universities sectors. It should be stated here that the Vote for higher education in the 1980 budget showed reductions in two vital headings. With regard to the Vote dealing with building grants and capital costs for universities and colleges of designated institutions of higher education, the amount provided in 1980 was £6,210,000 whereas in 1979 the money provided was £6,389,800—an actual reduction in money terms and a substantial reduction in real terms when one takes into account an inflation rate of the order of 20 per cent. Another reduction was shown under the subheading dealing with capital grants for furniture and equipment for universities and colleges and for institutions of higher education——

: The Deputy is surely getting away from the Bill before the House.

: He is getting away with murder.

: I am stating some facts of life that are relevant to the development of phase two of NIHE, Dublin.

: These facts are not relevant to the Bill before us. They have been debated on the budget and on several other occasions. The Deputy must keep to the Bill before the House.

: May I refer the Chair to the speech made by the Minister where he referred to the delay in the buildings being completed? In his speech he stated "The next phase of building will concentrate heavily on the provision of places". The reason I referred to the budget was that money was not provided for the next phase, namely, the phase that will concentrate heavily on the provision of places for technology.

: It is tradition of this House that we vote 1981 money in 1981.

: I am merely saying that the money provided in the budget for investment in third level education is a disaster and that it shows no comprehension of the long-term problems——

: What the Deputy is saying is appropriate to a debate on the Estimate for the Department of Education. Certainly it is not relevant in this discussion.

: We spent 11 hours on that earlier in the year.

: I am mentioning it in the context of the Bill dealing with NIHE, Dublin. I am not satisfied that the Minister has provided sufficient money for the development of NIHE, Dublin.

: The Chair has ruled that the Deputy is not in order in doing that. The Deputy should accept the ruling of the Chair.

: Is the Chair saying I cannot refer to the financial commitment of the Government in relation to the development of NIHE, Dublin?

: I am saying that what the Deputy is saying is relevant to a debate on the Estimate for the Department. In fact, I think that Estimate has been dealt with already.

: Will the Chair not accept that in order to build NIHE, Dublin one needs money and that that comes out of the budget usually? I am not satisfied that the Minister or the Government are tackling the problem regarding NIHE, Dublin. Apart from the statement about the proposed establishment of RTCs in the Dublin area, I have not seen any solid planning or time schedules in relation to the establishment of these colleges. That is indicative of the priority of the Government with regard to third level education. We have nearly a three to one ratio of applicants to places in our universities. That is a serious state of affairs and is a direct reflection on the failure of the present Government to invest in third level educational institutions. I hope this lack will be made up by the national institutes for higher education, the regional technical colleges and the colleges of technology, but they are bursting at the seams and the Government have not given any indication of an onward investment and expansion programme.

One matter of particular interest to me is the approach being adopted by the institute in the selection of students which will be based on an assessment of the leaving certificate results plus an aptitude test. This approach is different from that adopted by the universities which is based on the results of the leaving certificate or matriculation examination alone. I have stated on a number of occasions in this House that I am against using the leaving certificate by itself as a modus operandi in the selection of students for the universities. The regional technical colleges base their assessment on the results of the leaving certificate plus an aptitude test and an interview and that is a more mature way of selecting candidates. If research were done on the success or otherwise of the selection policy of the regional technical colleges I am confident it would prove to be a better system than that which obtains in the universities.

I have heard of a number of first-year students who are taking veterinary science or medicine simply because they had enough points to do so and in spite of the fact that when doing their leaving certificate they did not have either of these careers in mind. This seems an extraordinary way to decide on a career. Others with fewer points who might have wished to study veterinary science or medicine have had to content themselves with taking arts, commerce, social science or law. We have a new system of deciding careers based on the points system and it is not the most acceptable way of selecting students for universities.

I am pleased at the way the NIHE, Dublin, is evolving. It will be a very important force in the development of technological education and professional expertise. I note that they have appointed an industrial liaison officer and they poached a head of department from the regional technical college in Waterford to fill this vacancy. It was a very good selection. This is an important development and will allow the institute to have expertise in its relationship with industry. In general I am rather pleased with the quality of the staff who have been recruited to the institute and I wish them well in their pioneering efforts.

I am sorry there was a delay in the building of phase one but I am pleased to note that the institute will continue its summer term into July 1981. This is the kind of flexibility I like to see in such circumstances. It is felt that the optimum student population should be 5,000 and I am pleased that full development of the institute should be completed by 1988. At least the institute have established a time-scale and I hope the Government will be able to match it by ensuring that the facilities will be made available to bring the institute to full standing and full capability in relation to student intake.

The Minister said the next phase of building would concentrate heavily on the provision of places for technology and would provide 2,700 places. He did not state when the building of phase two would commence or the stage of planning it has reached at present. Can we expect that building will commence in 1981 or will there be an interminable delay in the building of this highly important phase?

I do not feel any need to go into the various sections of the Bill because we already did so when dealing with the Limerick institute. However, one change is introduced in section 8 (3)(d) which states:

to make recommendations to the Governing Body for the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students generally.

The word "generally" has been introduced in this Bill and was not contained in the Limerick Bill. I wonder if there is any particular significance in the use of this word. Has some responsibility been taken by the governing body in relation to this matter without reference to the academic council? Perhaps the Minister would comment.

I wish every success to the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. It has a commitment from this party but it needs above all a commitment from the party in power to ensure that the resources and funds will be made available for its speedy development. That development should take place between now and 1988 on a planned, phased basis and without any hindrance or faltering in any of those years by the Government in office. I wish the director, Dr. O'Hare, and the staff of the college good luck in their pioneering work. I feel sure that the future of the institute is assured not only because of its present staff but because of the type of educational pioneering work it is involved in and that work is vital to the future of this country.

: I welcome the Bill in broad outline and also welcome, on the first occasion that we have had an opportunity to do so in this House, the ad hoc establishment of the NIHE Dublin and the valuable work which its director and staff are doing.

Having said that I would like to point briefly to a couple of difficulties that arise in relation to the Bill. We are presented with a Bill for the establishment of a national institute for higher education in Dublin but the institute which is being created by this Bill is somewhat inadequately anchored either by the terms of the Bill or indeed by the Minister's speech. In its overall educational and indeed political context it is somewhat like Mohammed's coffin, suspended between Heaven and earth without any visible means of support. I would like to have heard the Minister pay more attention—and perhaps he can do this when replying—to two aspects of the proposed national institute's existence and development.

The first of these is its relationship with the regional technical colleges in general and the proposed new regional technical colleges in Dublin in particular. If it is to follow the general outline set by the NIHE in Limerick it is fairly evident that this relationship will be crucial to its success. So we need to know and we need to know now, and certainly I imagine those involved in the development of the institute need to know now in more detail than they or we or anybody else at the moment know, precisely what the Government's policy is in relation to the establishment of such subsidiary institutions upon which the NIHE will depend for many aspects of its intake and for its success.

The second area which is grey at the moment—and it is not unrelated to the first one—is the relationship between the National Institute for Higher Education in Dublin and any or all of the institutions which are at present organised and run by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. In an interjection to Deputy Collins earlier on in the debate the Minister said that there was absolutely no objection from the City of Dublin VEC to the establishment of the institute or to any courses that the institute might be running, if I heard him correctly.

: I said that there was no conflict between what the Minister is doing or saying and what the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee are doing.

: I accept what the Minister says. The Minister says there is no conflict between what he is saying or what he is doing and what the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee are doing. On the other hand, anybody in this House with any experience of politics in general and of institutional politics in particular will know that the prospect of tension, to put it no more strongly than that, between this new institution and existing institutions is a very real one. They will know also that the Minister as the man who holds the purse strings, especially in this highly expensive area of education, has an overall responsibility to ensure that any differences of opinion are minimised, that a conflict is not allowed to develop. They will know too that if the success of the City of Dublin NIHE were to depend on the financial strangulation of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee colleges then the cost of that victory in terms of goodwill, in terms of co-operation, in terms of the necessary development of third level and technological education in this city might well have been too high.

There is more hinted at than said in this debate at the moment and I am not talking just about the debate in this House but about the debate on the development of higher education in Dublin which is taking place outside this House. The committee itself holds its own counsel by and large and so does the Minister. But we would appreciate in the House more frankness from the Minister on the difficulties which he sees arising in this area and on the ways that he would like to approach some of them because difficulties there will be. At the very least there will be difficulties involving the possible duplication of courses and facilities. It could be argued that the possibility of duplication of courses and facilities is slight and that we need, as report after report has pointed out, more technological places at upper second level and third level. But it is one thing to provide more technological places at third level and another entirely to ensure that they are not simply in duplication of existing technological places in other institutions.

The degree of co-ordination and co-operation that is going to be demanded of all third level institutions in the future is going to be greater rather than less than it has been in the past. Knowing what I do of third level institutions I am not sanguine about the possibilities for such co-operation at the best of times. At the worst of times, when institutions are being either ignored or goaded into some particular course of action or having the financial tourniquets applied with more vigour than sophistication, the possibility of co-operation and co-ordination becomes more remote, and if the Minister does not want to get involved in a running battle involving the NIHE Dublin and other institutions in the city he will really have to do more groundwork than has been evident to date and certainly than has been evident in his speech.

There are a number of aspects of the new institute which deserve comment, positive in some areas and interrogative in others. The Minister has stated, and we must all agree, that anything which is called a national institute of higher education must have a national role. It must have a national role in relation to the kind of courses it provides and it must have a national role in relation to the intake of students. In this context the Minister's statistics are very interesting.

He says first of all that something like 55 per cent of the earlier applicants for places in the college come from outside the Dublin city and county area. In the second place he says that admission to courses is by means of leaving certificate results plus an aptitude test. We would be very interested to know in this House the degree to which, if at all, geographical origin is taken as any kind of an indicator of the suitability or otherwise of a candidate for a place in the college. I would doubt it but certainly it would be interesting to find out whether the ratio of those non-Dublin city and county students accepted for places was roughly equivalent to the ratio of the total number of applicants. Of course we are talking in terms of successful applicants of very small numbers. But there will be a tension certainly in relation to a new institute located in Dublin, given the overwhelming pressure on technological courses in Dublin from students in the Dublin city and county area.

Deputy Collins talked about the pressure on university places. To the best of my knowledge the pressure on some of the technological places in Dublin leaves some of the universities absolutely standing. The Minister is probably well aware of the fact that the opening of the doors of a new technological institution in Dublin will be greeted by many Dublin parents and young adults with a delight which may be somewhat temporary when they discover it is expected to serve a national role in terms of the students it admits as well as in terms of the courses it provides. Basically that pressure will continue to exist until the Dublin RTCs are really off the ground and, if I may mix my metaphors, in full production. But, looking ahead, I can foresee some of that pressure coming to rest on the broad, capable shoulders of public representatives in the Dublin area from parents whose offspring have been, as they feel, unfairly denied a place in the new national institute. I have never sought to interfere nor would I in the admission procedures of any such institute. I am laying down a marker in that respect now if any parents should happen to read this debate.

The other things I wanted to say about this Bill and institute have slightly wider import. I note two things in relation to what the Minister has said. First of all, that the institute has a firm commitment to new technology; secondly, that it has apparently an equally firm commitment to the principle of industrial liaison. I do not think that these two aspects of the institute's work and the problems they raise can be exaggerated. In relation to the new technology and to technology in general I believe we are facing a major cross-route in our economic and industrial life. The development of new technology offers this country, as it offers many others, the prospect of substantially enhancing the wealth-producing capacity of our work force and of our economy. At the same time, if it is badly handled, inexpertly handled, if it is crudely handled and, above all, if it is handled ovewhelmingly by greedy people rather than by people with a concern for the whole community, one of its major visible effects will be a further reduction in employment, certainly an increase in unemployment. I would hope—I have argued this case with the Minister from time to time and I do not think he is basically hostile to what I am saying—that the new institute's commitment to the new technology is not a blind commitment to new technology at any price; nor on the other hand should it be any kind of a Luddite attitude. I think it is often forgotten in relation to the Luddites that, when they broke up the machines, they did not do so because they disliked machines but rather they broke up the machines because the improved productivity for which those machines were responsible did not reach them in any real increase in the wages they were entitled to expect.

I should like to see in the institute, and in all institutions of this kind, a commitment to technology going hand in hand with a political—and I use the word with a small "p": polis, city, people, the community—commitment to examining the effects of new technology and indeed the distribution of the wealth created by new technology.

The other point to which I have just referred is the question of industrial liaison. Again it is not unrelated to the first point because I would hope, certainly, that when the institute embarks on its industrial liaison programmes it does not send out its students, nor indeed its staff, to industry whether public or private—and I hope that public industry will be included just as much as private—in the spirit of sending out neophytes who have something to receive only and nothing to give. If industry, public and private, is to benefit from the establishment of the institute, if the institute itself is to benefit from the industrial liaison procedures it is already setting up, then the relationship between the institute and industry will have to be a two-way one. Industry will have to accept that the law of the jungle is not necessarily the law of progress for this or any other community, just as the institute will have to accept that drawbridges have to be built out from every educational potential ivory tower.

I am glad that the small print of the Bill bears the marks of the very extended discussion we had on the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Bill earlier in the year. From that point of view, I certainly do not anticipate the Bill causing us any major problem in procedural terms. But I should like to hear the Minister, when he replies, refer in rather more detail than he has done to date to the points I have mentioned in my speech.

: First of all I want to thank the education spokesmen from the Opposition for their contributions. Remarks were made that, through working together on the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Bill, we came out with an improved Bill which was subsequently enacted. At the time I am on record in this House as having thanked the Deputies opposite for their contribution and for making this possible.

To take up the points made by Deputy Collins, for a start, the Deputy pointed out that he thought that the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, should have more than one assessment and award-making body involved in the institute. I am on record in this House—and have given reasons for it—as being totally opposed to that position. Apart from anything else, getting a new technological institute under way and burdening it with more than one award-making body would seem calculated to induce educational schizophrenia, with students looking everywhere in so far as their qualifications were concerned and not being able to concentrate on getting a line on the particular method of assessment and the handling and developing of their subjects. The House knows very well that during the traumatic period when the universities were involved perforce, not of their own free will, in this whole area there were misunderstandings, suspicious and attacks. Perhaps, in fact, what was really happening was due to the different ethos of the university system from that which we were seeking to develop in these technological institutions.

I am at one with Deputy Collins on the question of mobility, both vertical and horizontal. Some of Deputy Horgan's remarks relate here as well, in that he wanted something said in regard to the relationship between the new RTCs in Dublin and the National Institute for Higher Education in Dublin. The whole idea in developing its own ethos for this area of education was that it should not be hidebound by any of the traditions of the third level non-technological or the university area. The basic idea was that a student could pursue his or her course at the regional technical colleges to a certain grade or degree—two, three, four years—and have vertical mobility in so far as the national institutes were concerned. That is still our purpose. With regard to horizontal mobility, the idea was that there should be mobility between the regional technical colleges themselves and between the regional technical colleges and the national institutes and in many cases there is already a certain accommodation for horizontal and vertical mobility with some of the universities or university colleges.

I am pleased that the allocation of three places from the colleges of technology which are under the aegis of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee finds favour with Deputy Collins. Both the national institute and the colleges themselves will benefit by this. I cannot accept Deputy Collin's point regarding the Higher Education Authority. This Bill in no way seeks to by-pass the Higher Education Authority. In fact, as I said in my opening speech on section 13, the very important role of this Authority in relation to the institute is outlined. The Deputy's reference to the new RTCs is highly relevant in that they will be feeding into the national institute and be building the technological foundations. The House knows that the decision has been made with regard to these four. The exact location and provision of sites are under consideration at the moment.

Deputy Collins referred to the ratio or percentage of participation. I think he was quoting from the plan for the development of the institute. I am in total agreement that there is a need to keep in step with Europe, percentagewise. One caveat that I should like to enter is that when we are giving statistics about Europe, very often we are giving the wrong type of statistics. Many students of the technological colleges spend as many as seven or eight years before graduation and when we are counting Europe, we are counting them. I have put it on record before in this House that we are in too much of a hurry out of all our educational institutions, that we are into the third level too quickly and very ambitious to get out——

: Hear, hear.

: ——at a very young age. When, with the present secretary of the Department of Education, I visited Eindhoven, The Netherlands, we discovered that the course was a five year one but that six-and-a-half years was the average time spent before graduation by the students in that institution. When we are giving statistics in age groupings and comparing with European statistics, we should be very careful that we are comparing like with like. Very often we are not so doing.

The reference to any conflict between the Minister for Education and the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee puzzles me completely. There is no such conflict. Time and time again, whenever given the opportunity, I have paid tribute to the—I think magnificent is not too strong a word—work that the City of Dublin Vocational Education Technological Colleges have done. They were alone in the field at that advanced level for a very long time and were working under disadvantages. I see an increasing role for them in technological education and I shall return to that point again. Far from there being any conflict, we want all their expertise and experience for the development of technological education throughout the country.

The same or a similar point was made by Deputy Horgan, which he answered himself. The demand for technological places is very high indeed. He said that in many areas the university problem is child's play compared with the problem of the technological colleges. In these circumstances, I cannot see how there is, or can be, any duplication. If there are so many looking for places on electronics or mechanical engineering courses with many being turned away, all I can say is that I would love if we had reached the stage when one would be run down at the expense of the other or, to put it another way, if the problem were that we had so many places that technological institutions were in conflict with each other trying to get customers, then I should be happy indeed. I cannot see that happening, even in ten years' time. I, therefore, see it as an obligation on me, as Minister, and on the committees charged in this area with responsibility for developing technological education, to provide as many places as we possibly can. The House will agree that the Government have been very successful in the development in recent years of the chemical and the electronics industries. There is a grave obligation that this arm of the Government should not let down the other arm of the Government in this regard. There is an obligation on us to expand technological education and the provision of places along these lines in these areas, so that we can develop both industrially and educationally, as we must do if we are to survive.

I thought I would get a compliment from Deputy Collins on the speed with which we have developed the NIHE in Dublin so far. We had to provide a site which cost far too much. In my innocence I had thought that I would get the site cheaper from Dublin Corporation but they must have had a reasonable profit on it.

With regard to Deputy Horgan and his flight of fancy about Mohammed's coffin midway between heaven and earth, I assure the Deputy that we have given the NIHE in Dublin a local habitation and an aim. It is firmly anchored in Ballymun in the old Albert College and there is no doubt about what it stands for either in its physical location or its philosophical location in our educational system. I referred in passing to its relationship to the RTCs. In referring to it, both Deputies put their fingers on a very important aspect of the institute in Dublin, as in Limerick, in that it should relate closely to the RTCs. I do not agree with Deputy Horgan that the RTCs are necessarily subsidiary institutions, because by their definition they are institutions in their own right. As far as developing the courses taken at the RTCs is concerned, they can be leads into the national institute. Deputy Horgan was also concerned about the technological colleges under the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. The Deputy more or less answered himself in saying that the need was so great that we had to develop more places. It would be crazy to allow any hostility to arise between the technological colleges and the national institutions seeing that the need is so great for development in this field. Perhaps in ten years' time if we continue to develop we will have a different situation, but now what we really need is more places in the technological field.

Deputy Horgan emphasised the word "national" and talked about the national role. I do not read much significance into the question of statistics as to where students are from. That reference was included in my speech to indicate that, although it is called The National Institute for Higher Education Dublin, people who are not from Dublin are not necessarily excluded. The courses have to be national and must be thought of in the context, that I have already referred to, of the very great development particularly in electronics and the chemical industries in recent years. The statistics stand up as being among the highest in the world, which illustrates our success in attracting this type of industry.

I fully agree with what Deputy Horgan said when he indicated that he thought we were at a major crossroads in our development and that this new technology will play an important role in enhancing our wealth-producing ability. I also agree that there will be social problems connected with it. The Deputy referred to the Luddites in the past as adopting a certain attitude not because they hated machinery but because of the increase in production which deprived them of their own ways of making a living. There will be a serious social dimension to this development and in developing our technology courses pari passu we will have to be more than careful about the social aspects. We have in the world at the moment serious problems arising from the micro developments. The House is aware that one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world in a neighbouring country is in danger because of inability to solve the social and industrial problems that arise from development. We will have more and more of that. Therefore, it is important that our technological education should be developed and that the general public as well as those who will spécialise in the colleges should know what is happening and should know the social implications of it. Lack of knowledge often induces fear. If our technology is properly developed we will dispel fears and we will be in a position to help those who are framing social policies to meet this type of technological development.

In relation to what Deputy Horgan said about industrial liaison aspects, the experience in Limerick, and in many of the continental technological institutions as well, would bear out the contention that both industry and the educational institute benefit by this process. It adds a necessart dimension to the educational institution side of things and to the industrial side. Sometimes if we are over involved in the educational sector we might be inclined to imagine that industry only needed to learn. It is true that the educational institution is also in the business of learning about industry.

I do not know if there was any significance when Deputy Horgan spoke about a drawbridge rather than a bridge as between the institution and the industry. Drawbridges can be drawn up.

I thank Deputies for their contributions and their assurance of help in getting the Bill through the House.

: At what stage is the building of the engineering science phase?

: There will not be any delay. We will have to finish phase one and then the engineering phase takes over.

: Can I take it that the time scale laid down for the completion of the overall development of the institute will be adhered to?

: In so far as it is humanly possible.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take Committee Stage now.