I deny this. We cannot, for example, sanction developments in any institute out of public funds without getting clearance from the Ministers concerned. I do not think it is fair to say that the public servants who advise Ministers would in any way allow extraneous matters to damage their judgment with regard to the sanctioning of moneys for particular jobs. One Senator said that a civil servant might look at a post and say: "This fellow will have £2,000 per annum more than I have. I will not sanction it." That is an unworthy remark, I think it was a slip that was not worthy of the Senator. He knows perfectly well that the possibility of that happening is very remote indeed.
Senator Mulcahy who, as I said already when we were speaking in the House, played no small part in the setting up of the various structures for the R.T.C.s and for these national institutes, when he acted as chairman of the committee, some years ago asked should the regional technical colleges not be included in this legislation, if I am right in thinking that is the point he made. As the House knows, there are plans to have more regional technical colleges in the Dublin area. There are plans to have four such regional technical colleges. They are relevant on this Bill in that it is our intention that there should be a close link for the type of mobility that was referred to by Senator Murphy with regard to the traditional universities and the new National Institute, that type of horizontal mobility between the regional technical colleges and the National Institute. That is envisaged. We hope that will cause the regional technical colleges and the National Institutes to thrive and prosper.
There is one point I should like to make. The vocational education committees as of now are responsible for the regional technical colleges. They have done this very well. As of now I have no plans to remove the regional technical colleges from the control of the vocational education committees.
If we wanted to bring them more tightly into the compass of the National Institutes for Higher Education then we would have to take them away from the vocational education committees, and we would have to fund them through the Higher Education Authority. As of now I have no plans to-do that. There are some people who have advocated this and have been advocating it for some time.
Senator Mulcahy emphasised the whole idea of mobility as between the new institutes and the traditional universities and between the regional technical colleges and the national institutes, and the more widely known our desire for that mobility is the better. He touched on the old problem of the clash between technology and what are called the academic disciplines. I do not think I need say any more about that. He did make a point about the development of the micro-processors and micro-electronics. I have already referred to that.
I had the privilege of being at the particular function that Senator Mulcahy mentioned where these people had dedicated a number of years of their adult life to study to get this master's degree, and it was a great revelation to me to spend an evening with them. They are fully conscious of the need in these fields, both the commercial and the industrial fields. They are rather scared, and this links up with what I said with regard to the social implications of development which was referred to by Senator FitzGerald, development which will put one robot into a factory doing the job of a couple of hundred people. They are scared about what I mentioned already, the development of the micro-chip, not merely its social implications but its implications for the success of our industry. This is an area on which we will have to concentrate our attention. The National Institutes are ideally equipped. So are the universities. The universities have an obligation in this field also. The point is that we do not want to drift into a situation where we will be dealing with large numbers of educated people under an antiquated system of distribution of wealth and where we will not have our plans made for a proper evolution in this field.
Bhi áthas orm gur luaigh an Seanadóir Ó Maolcatha ceist na Gaeilge ins an teicneolaiocht. Dúirt sé nach raibh sé ag moladh dúinn go mbeadh na hadhbhair sna hinstitiúidí seo á múineadh trí Ghaeilge ach dúirt sé go mba chóir dúinn béim do chur ar an nGaeilge do chuile chathróir sa tir agus nach cóir failli a dhéanamh sa Ghaeilge sna coláistí teicneolaíochta. Tá a fhios agam go mbionn meascán de Ghaeilge is Béarla uaireanta nuair a bhionn daoine ag plé cúrsai na teicneolaiochta. Is cuimhin liom uair amháin gur chuir mé ceist ar fhear thuas i dTir Chonaill an raibh córas ceirde a bhi aige costasach agus dúirt sé liom, "bíodh fhios go bhfuil sé designeálta fá choinne petrol agus tá sé ag ól paraffin oil. Tá an consumption trom go maith."
Senator O'Brien, in a constructive and wide ranging speech, welcomed the Bill in particular because it was making provision for third level education for many thousands more of our young people. As he comes from the same constituency as I do and as he knows the need in that kind of constituency where we have the highest percentage in Ireland of people involved in agriculture at the small farmer level, I welcome his words in par-, ticular. He mentioned the survey that was made and the indications that there were 13 or 14 different skills where we lacked qualified people when an assessment was made some time ago. He was referring to the activities of the manpower committee. It is true. We were short and people were encouraged to come back, particularly from Britain, where a publicity campaign was conducted by the Department of Labour, a very successful one, and one that should be pleasing to us in this country because in all the universities in the second last term and sometimes in the last term, we have representatives calling from the multinational companies trying to entice away the very best of our graduates, particularly in the science and engineering field. This is a feature of the university each year. We got quite a few of those back. We got some who were not graduates but who had trained themselves on the floor, so to speak, in industry and they were welcome too. In a way we are getting back some of our own and they have the additional strength of having had experience in their own field.
Senator O'Brien mentioned his own experience as an interviewer in making appointments to vocational schools on behalf of the vocational education committee and pointed out that sometimes he had over 100 applicants for jobs teaching history or English and when he was looking for mechanical engineering, woodwork and metal work teachers, often he had nobody at all. I said in the other House that we hoped — and this will come up more specifically on the Thomond Bill — to get enough graduates from Thomond College in metal work and in engineering studies, woodwork and construction studies to provide teachers for all the post-primary schools. That is our long term ambition. I know it is a long term ambition but it is a worthwhile ambition and one to which we will now dedicate ourselves. It is not an easy one but it is one we will have to try to achieve.
Senator O'Brien also referred to something I said in the Dáil about our great hurry to get out of the system. Parents are not entirely blameless in this, and they do push their children. Historically, there was an economic basis to the whole problem. It was necessary to get through the system and get a position as quickly as possible. This was true. To a certain extent it is still true but it is not sound educationally. It is sad that the young boy or girl thinks, because he is not graduating from university at 20 or 21, he is too old, whereas our partners in Europe, in many countries, are not starting until they are 19 or 20. Senator O'Brien related this to the number of failures and even to problems with drugs and drink afterwards in third level institutions. He also praised the application of the aptitude test.
I cannot help the universities. I do not know if anybody has made a suggestion in this House that would help the universities in the matter of assessment. The aptitude test is one way. The aptitude test is good provided we do not look for too much from it. There is the infallibility syndrome; in this country, when an aptitude test is set up, we are inclined to predicate infallibility off it straight away. Senator Hussey gave an example where this did not obtain. Developing psychologist gurus and attributing infallibility to them is a mistake, just the same as giving too much weight to honours mathematics or honours in any other subject. It is a very difficult field. It is one where it is very difficult to make categorical statements credibly. I think all the methods should be used but one should always have that little reservation that the aptitude tests are not infallible, the examinations are not infallible; there will be a certain amount of hit and miss no matter what happens. There is no way of saying this is the best person for a course of medicine, there is an element of chance in the end.
Senator O'Brien also referred to the question of ministerial control, talked about the appointment of members of the General Council of County Councils to the various university governing bodies and to the Senate of the National University of Ireland, and recommended membership for members of the Irish Vocational Education Association. I assure the Senator that there will be representation from the Irish Vocational Education Association on the governing body.
Senator Donnelly made the very strong point of the fundamental importance of what we were doing here. He talked about the great demand for technological graduates for top level places in the industrial life of the country, and went on to praise the Institute of the College of Commerce in Rathmines, with which he had a personal association. I should like to emphasise one point very strongly. Senator Donnelly said that there could be no conflict between the existing colleges, College of Commerce, Kevin Street and Bolton Street, and the new National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. I agree with him fully in this. He has had experience in this field. It is important that we should emphasise it. The objectives are the same, high level education for commercial and technological graduates.
The point he made that their demand was so high that there could be no question of making too much provision is also an important one. We will need all the places that we have in Kevin Street, Bolton Street, College of Commerce and the other colleges under the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee and all the places that we can develop in the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, and in the four new regional technical colleges which we intend to provide in the Dublin area.
He spoke particularly about the gradual wearing down of some traditional industries that were labour intensive and the arrival of new industries which are not labour intensive and very often are capital intensive, which require far fewer workers and very high skills. It is about that business that we are here. The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, is important in that field as are the other ones. He finished by praising the aptitude test, by quoting the old "educate that you may be free" motto of the last century. The freedom, as he said, was somewhat different from what we are talking about now. We were talking in the 19th century about political freedom. It is true to say that the freedom of the individual or the freedom of choice in his job is a valid interpretation of the word freedom in this context today
Senator Donnelly also referred to the importance of student accommodation. It is a problem. I am not necessarily concerned with it today. If we are concerned with the standards achievable in the institute, we will have to take cognisance of the fact that there are difficulties about accommodation. He said that these difficulties, which exist very heavily on the south side and in the environs of the various institutions and universities now, are going to move to the north side of the city of Dublin as the result of the establishment of this institute.
He referred to student protests and emphasised that the students had their right to protest and also have every right to make their views known. He went on to say that they had a privileged position, that there was pressure for places and that they had the places and the rights of others should not go without acknowledgement from them.
Senator Hussey welcomed the Bill and said that by its nature it would have to have a technological bias. She said that the demand was great, would increase and must be planned for. She indicated also the social changes that had taken place since she was at the university, and talked of a projection for ten years time, for 1990. That projection has been made, is available and will be published in the White Paper.
Senator Hussey talked about Ireland having the lowest level of participation in third level education in the European Economic Community. We have already touched on one aspect of that, that we are in too much of a hurry into and out of our third level institutions. Very often the statistics with regard to Europe are not relevant to our situation at all. The statistics are often given by age groups — number at age 18, number at age 19, number at age 20 — in fact in continental universities, very often they are starting at 19 or 20 and their course goes on for five to six years. I visited Eindhoven in Holland which is a technological university and there I was told that the course is a five year course, 20 was the average age of intake and that six-and-a-half years is the average for graduation from it. When you compare Irish statistics with those statistics you are not comparing like with like. I am not making a case for our participation rate, but, to get a proper view of who has the lowest and who has the highest rate of participation, we should be comparing like with like.
The point she made of 21,000 males and 15,000 females in third level education seems to indicate that there was a drop-out of about 6,000 women students who should be in third level education. Having already made the point that the girls did better in 19 out of 23 subjects in the leaving certificate, perhaps the fact that the technological field had been almost entirely male hitherto may explain this, in part at least.
It is also true that in the commercial field very often the preponderance is one of women. Recently, there was an international apprentice competition held in Cork There were female participants in the competition, in particular one Japanese girl who competed in the plumbing section. She was very small. All the tools of her trade were in proportion. The box of plumber's tools was made to suit either herself or a small man in Japan. I regret very much that I did not have the privilege of giving her first prize in her area. She did not win a prize, but the fact that she was there excited some interest among the women students in the Cork area.
Senator Hussey referred to — and I think I have covered it already — the aptitude test, and pointed out that she had practical experience of the failure of the psychological test to indicate what would be the best profession for an individual student who took those tests. I know of other examples of this. The psychologist is useful, the aptitude test is useful but, to repeat what I have said already, we have a tendency to adopt a procedure and then attribute infallibility to it. We cannot do that with any of the tests. We know that the Leaving Certificate is not an infallible test. I agree with Senator O'Brien on that. We know that the psychological tests are not infallible. We have no consensus on what is a good test, because there is the difficulty if you leave it to some subjective criteria that you can be accused of favouritism and, as one of the Senators said, you could be accused of corrupt practices. A solid study was done on this recently by Mrs. Nevin. She came to a very strange conclusion, to people who had been castigating the leaving certificate, that the rate of success in the science faculty in University College, Dublin, over a certain period could be correlated to the successes in the leaving certificate. Again, for what it is worth, it indicates that the leaving certificate is not a totally stultifying operation as some people would seem to indicate.
Senator Hussey was hopeful for what NIHE will do for mature students and was impressed by the facilities available in the United States. I suppose it is true to say that the whole idea of working and studying has always been very strong in the United States, and many an emigrant on the eastern coast won his spurs with pride at night school, who did not have very much of an opportunity in whatever country he emigrated from. We are relating the education of these full-time students to industrial and commercial activities outside. It is not quite real in the sense that it is real in the United States. Nevertheless, we know that this practical bent is highly welcomed by people who had experience, for example, in the engineering faculties of the traditional university. That is a tribute worth listening to.
A different study unit was also referred to and I have some ideas on that. I refer to one particular point Senator Conroy made, notably the danger of emphasising the technological aspect too much. He was agreeing with Senator Alexis FitzGerald in saying that we should not in any way minimise the importance of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. He also emphasised the importance of innovation. From primary school, we are trying to construct courses in such a way that the minds of our young students and citizens will be flexible, creative and innovative. Senator Conroy asked if it was envisaged that there would be sandwich courses available in the institute. I am not quite sure of the definition of a sandwich course, but I think what he has in mind will be available in the new institute. He, too, with Senator Whitaker, emphasised the importance of standards. There is general agreement on that and also that the standards would coincide with the standards outside this country.
It is very important that this should be so, in that we are coming late to industrial development and that we might think, if we were relying on our own judgment and experiences, that our standards were as high as they are elsewhere. Countries which have been a long time in the technological field are places where we can get the objective assessment of standards. I do not think that will be neglected in our national institutes in Dublin, Limerick or in our regional technical colleges.
Senator Conroy referred also to the provision for research. He said it was not dwelt on very much in the course of the debate, but in the Bill provision is made for that. I apologise for having interrupted Senator Martin's contribution. His shadows are either falling forward or falling backward with regard to the university legislation. I am aware of university personnel having already voiced fears about this. I do not know what the source of the fears is or whether they are trying to pre-empt the situation or whether they think I have some kind of designs, such as a famous spider had on a famous fly. I can tell the Senator that there are no grounds for his fear nor are there any grounds for his fear in relation to this Bill. We will have a further opportunity to consider it, but I can assure him that it is not the intention of the Minister or of the Department to exercise any kind of stranglehold or to put a half-Nelson on development in any of the institutes or universities.