Thomond College of Education, Limerick, Bill, 1980: Fifth Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

There has not been a great debate on this Bill. The reason for that is that we had such an in-depth discussion on the NIHE Bill that to go over the same ground again on this Bill would be unnecessary. That does not mean to say that this Bill is unimportant or that the establishment of the college on a statutory basis is unimportant. That is not the case.

It is a very important move by the State and has the full support of Fine Gael and, to my knowledge, all Members of the House. Thomond College has a very important role to play in our educational system. It will be involved not only in the education to degree level of physical education teachers but also in other specialist disciplines. It represents a great leap forward in areas where we have not to date put enough emphasis. We hope that the present Government will provide the necessary resources and funds to allow the college to expand and meet targets of investment and expansion, especially in relation to student population.

In our opinion there are some defects in the Bill. For instance, I am sorry that the college will not be allowed to grant certificates and diplomas. This is a weakness in the Bill which could have been rectified but unfortunately the Minister was not moved to introduce an amendment which, far from damaging the Bill, would have improved it substantially.

We differed, as we did on the two previous Bills, regarding the composition of the governing body and we could have discussed this matterad nauseam. By and large the Minister has improved the composition of this governing body vis-à-vis the governing body of the NIHE and has adopted a more liberal attitude.

Because of a technical procedure in the House I was not able to speak on Deputy Horgan's amendment in relation to the IVEA, but we supported it in the Division Lobby and it would have had my full support on the floor of the House. While the graduates of Thomond College would not be exclusively involved in the vocational sector, I imagine that a large proportion of graduates would go into that sector. However, I would hope that they would also go into other sectors such as community and secondary schools where there is a great need for a widening of the curricula. Because of the historical division there is a very good argument for allowing the IVEA to be automatically represented by their own nomination on the governing body.

The structure of the Bill is similar to that dealing with the NIHE. I am fairly satisfied that the Bill achieves its objective. It only remains for me to wish the director, staff and governing body every success in their future involvement in this area of education. I am pleased to note that the dispute between the students and the college has been resolved, and I had some part to play in the resolution of that dispute. Right was not on any one side in this unfortunate dispute. I believe that the final part I examination should have been held at second year and not postponed or deferred. That was a weakness on the part of the college authorities.

I would ask the Deputy to confine his remarks to the Fifth Stage.

The students should not have pursued such an acrimonious dispute because of its implications for the authorities and the NCEA. I am very glad the dispute has been resolved. I wish the Bill well and to a certain extent I congratulate the Minister for its introduction and the manner in which he steered it through the House.

The society in which we live is dominated by many things, not least by status, and it is a sad fact of life in our educational system that for many years some of the subjects in which teachers are now to be trained in Thomond College have suffered a lessening of status in schools and in third level institutions. It seems to be the fact that since our Republican Constitution forbids the conferring or acceptance of titles of honour educational distinctions and qualifications are effectively one of the most sought-after forms of status.

By conferring the status of a fully-fledged third level institution on Thomond College and by giving the teachers trained by that college the status of degree holders under the National Council for Educational Awards, this Bill will at least take the first step towards restoring those subjects. It will give the men who teach those subjects and the young men and women who will learn thém something of the status they will need in Irish society if we are to produce well-rounded, well-educated individuals in the years ahead. The remainder of the job of supplying that status will be done on the ground by the college itself and by the men and women it produces to teach these various disciplines. On all sides of the House we wish the college well and say that its institution did not come a moment too soon.

It is a pleasant duty to thank Deputies opposite for their help in getting through all Stages of this Bill. Deputy E. Collins said that the debate was somewhat thinner than it might have been because we had combed fairly tightly the clauses in the Bills setting up the colleges in Limerick and Dublin, and this is true. Nevertheless, the discussions on this Bill were helpful and clarified many of the issues involved in the setting up on a statutory basis of Thomond College.

I deliberately chose to deal step by step with higher education legislation and I will follow the same course in the matter of the universities Bills. I hope in the very near future to have before the House the Bill for the new National University of Dublin, followed by Cork, Galway and Maynooth.

I thank Deputies for their contributions and assure Deputy E. Collins, who raised the matter, that the Government are committed to provide the resources in this and in every other field of education, particularly at third level. It would be totally illogical to provide for the establishment in Ireland of some of the most sophisticated industries without providing expertise in education to back the establishment of those industries.

The point that Deputy E. Collins made about the non-provision of certificates and diplomas in Thomond was adequately dealt with earlier in the debate on the Bill and Deputy Horgan, in his contribution, pointed out the long history of the ambition of the various teachers' organisations to have an all-graduate profession. It is in that context that as of now only degrees are and will be awarded in Thomond. It was highly desirable that we have an all-graduate profession. Some recent statistic I saw was that the Inner London Education Authority has a teacher force of which 50 per cent are graduates and that is the highest percentage on Great Britain. So we are considerably in advance of that and this Bill will aid in that field. I am not saying that the provision of, say, certificates whether of one year or two years' duration, or diplomas later on, will not be made. What we are dealing with here is the qualification necessary to be registered as a teacher and therefore it is very important to nail our colours to the graduate mast. Indeed Deputy Horgan in his final contribution indicated that it was important from the point of view of the provision of status for the particular areas of physical education and the specialist education subjects.

I indicated also in the course of the discussion that it was my ambition to get under way an expanded programme of training so that the specialist teachers will be available in all the schools as was mentioned by Deputy Collins. Deputy Horgan made reference to the structural reality of the vocational education system where the specialist teachers were mainly employed and are still mainly employed but not exclusively. I would like to refer to one of the problems about the Irish Vocational Education Association and that is the problem of being able to provide personnel. They are so busy and the committees are so small. I had a discussion with Deputy Boland on this a couple of years ago. The good people are so busy in and about vocational education that it is difficult for them to make time for added committees and added duties. There may be a way we can solve that but we cannot do that immediately.

Is mian liom arís mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis na Teachtaí a labhair sa díospóireacht seo. Is dóigh liomsa, ar aon chaoí, go bhfuilimid ag comhoibriú agus tá sé sin ag dul chun socair don oideachas agus tá súil agam go mbeidh an comhoibriú céanna againn nuair a bheéas na Billí i leith na n-ollscoileanna roimh an Teach. Go raibh míle maith agaibh.

Question put and agreed to.