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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 21 Apr 1999

Vol. 159 No. 1

Qualifications (Education and Training) Bill, 1999: Committee Stage (Resumed). SECTION 8.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 15:
In page 13, subsection (2), lines 17 to 20, to delete paragraph (e).
–(Senator Henry).

I do not want to delay the debate much more by discussing this matter. My problem is that I am addressing not only the optics but also the fact that universities which may be set up, including the Dublin Institute of Technology which I am sure will be given university status in the not too distant future, will be working under different criteria from those already established. Those universities will be more autonomous than the new universities being set up under section 9 and the Dublin Institute of Technology, if and when it transfers. I do not want to delay the House further or to labour the point, but that is my concern as regards this division.

I take the Minister's point about different types of institutions. I have a knowledge of the French polytechnics, which would not allow themselves to be described as universities, and I know what the Minister means in that regard. In this small society, the new universities which may be set up and the Dublin Institute of Technology believe they will be in an invidious position. I know the Minister said otherwise but they may be thought of as a lower level of institution.

Earlier I said that in essence this is an important part of the Bill. Any new universities established under section 9 will continue to co-operate with the work of the qualifications authority and facilitate it in its work in terms of implementing procedures for transfer, access and progression. They would be different types in comparison to traditional universities in terms of the nature of sub-degree programmes and the variety of programmes that they would offer. We are determined to maintain the binary system and multi-level provision and, in that context, to continue the quality assurance procedures and access and progression dimensions of the Bill, irrespective of the manner in which the institutions would evolve over time. The Nally report on Dublin Institute of Technology recommended that and it made for interesting reading.

The qualifications authority does not impede or hinder the growth or evolution of institutions. It is important to highlight that in many ways it will facilitate greater autonomy for them, particularly in making their own awards. Any new universities will have different missions and will be stronger in many respects than traditional univer sities. Diversity is the touchstone of the Bill and it will be served by it.

Our main difficulty with and disappointment in the legislation is that the role of all universities is not included equally in terms of the regulatory mechanisms which are prescribed in it. That is why we are seeking to delete section 41(1) which states that the Chapter shall apply only to universities established under section 9 of the 1997 Act. If we are providing a regulatory mechanism and setting down stipulations and conditions in regard to the operation of good quality access to and standards in education then all institutions should equally come under the determining mechanism. That applies across the board, whether it is primary, second, third level or further education.

If the Minister saw fit to accept one or other of the amendments which have been tabled by the Opposition that would effect that result, I would be happy with the legislation.

I understand the Senator's motivation but significant progress has been achieved in terms of the range of institutions and providers that are covered under the Bill. There was a tremendous, and hot, debate on the Universities Act, 1997, and it was amended considerably in both Houses. This resulted in a good product with which most people were happy at the end of the day. It was dramatically altered in good parliamentary spirit.

However, it would be unrealistic to suggest that we could overturn it. This Bill is not intended to repeal that Act, and significant chunks of it would have to be repealed if the Senator's amendment were accepted.

Hear, hear.

I am getting confused; I thought the Labour Party introduced that Act. However, I do not anticipate going down that road.

We have evolved to our current position and considerable progress has been made. I look forward to further co-operation, harmony and co-ordination upon enactment of this Bill. Once we start the ball rolling, we can evolve and produce an all encompassing framework eventually. Rome was not built in a day and the qualifications authority marks a significant advance. The universities or godless colleges that were established a long time ago are different. They have traditions and have built up their own processes, expertise and strengths over the years and it is wrong to deny that or pretend it did not happen. They have their own particular ethos, missions, etc., have served the country well and are committed to working with us to implement this Bill in a good spirit. That in itself also represents considerable progress in comparison to attitudes in the past. A number have been very forthcoming in talking to us on this Bill in a genuine spirit of co-operation and goodwill.

We have noticed that the old lines of demarcation are beginning to break down in terms of the research initiative we announced. Senator Manning referred to the many university presidents who now work more with institutes of technology than they did in the past. Snobbery is going and long may that continue.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendments Nos. 16 to 18, inclusive, not moved.

Amendment No. 19 is an alternative to amendment No. 18a and both may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 18a:

In page 13, paragraph (f), line 23, after "time", to insert "and in any case not less than once in every five years".

Timescales are sometimes set out in legislation and it is up to the body in question to determine its timescale for action. Senator McDonagh initially proposed that a review by the qualifications authority of the implementation by universities of access, transfer and progression arrangements should take place at least every five years. This seems reasonable in terms of giving the authority a guide on how it should conduct its work.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 19 not moved.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 13, subsection (3), lines 44 to 47, to delete paragraph (b).

The intention is to delete the paragraph which gives the Minister absolute power in regard to all education and training policies. The function of the authority is to give effect to the policies relating to education and training which from time to time are established by the Minister. That is a unilateral and unconditional statement. When the previous Administration's Education Bill was being discussed, the Minister was to the fore in calling his predecessor a megalomaniac for wanting all power relating to policy to be enshrined in the Department under the direction of the Minister.

There is no element of consultation in the section. Subsection 3(a) provides that the authority will inform itself of industry requirements but it must also give effect to the policies enunciated by the Minister or his successors from time to time. That sounds a little high-handed. Surely there should be a greater degree of flexibility, consultation and participation in policies.

It would be wrong to suggest that the National Qualifications Authority should carry out its functions in a vacuum without regard to the ministerial policy of the day, irrespective of who is Minister. This section provides that in carrying out its functions the authority will give effect to the policies relating to education and training which are established from time to time by the Minister for Education and Science. Times change and Governments initiate policy, having mandates from the people, etc. At present the Government must meet the skills needs of the economy and society by introducing new skills and investment proposals. In many ways it makes sense that an authority such as this should give effect to Government policy. It is not that Government will dictate to the authority what it should do in its day to day operations or its regulations but, where a Government sees the need at a given time for policy initiatives, it makes sense that the authority should not ignore those initiatives or run counter to the intentions of the Government of the day, which may be in the best interests of the country. Some people take the instinctive view that anything proposed by Government is wrong but we should have faith in Governments to do the right thing from time to time.

The provision runs counter to the rest of the authority's powers in the section. It has power to establish policies and criteria for qualifications, to review operations, to establish procedures, to consult bodies, to determine procedures, etc., but out of the blue it must merely implement a diktat from the Minister.

Any policy would have to be consistent with the Bill. Its provisions could not be undermined unilaterally by any Minister.

This provision gives the impression that the Minister would act outside the provisions and dictate from on high.

No, I should have clarified that. The Minister would not have authority to do so; in that instance he would have to bring forward amending legislation. The skills area is a classic example of this. At present we have a fast-moving economy and there is a great need to do certain things in terms of certifying qualifications and investing in programmes. That position changes over time and a future Government could have a policy imperative in the nation's interest which needed to be implemented. In that case it would make sense that an authority would not only inform itself of that but would be in a position to give effect to it. That is reasonable. No Minister can unilaterally undermine the Bill's provisions.

I accept that what the Minister says is what he intends but this is rather a blanket provision. Another Minister could decide the Bill gives him power to establish policies to which the authority must give effect and that everything else is irrelevant. Further clarification may be needed to put this provision into the context of the surrounding provisions.

This section relates to the functions of the authority. It provides that the authority shall "establish the policies and criteria on which the framework of qualifications shall be based" and establish, in consultation with the training awards councils, the procedures for the performance of their functions. I agree with the Minister that the authority would have to take account of the economy of the day in making decisions for our education and qualifications system. This does not mean the Minister is being high-handed since every Government must have its policies reflected. The Senator knows that if his party were in power he would say what I am saying now.

No, we are true democrats.

He would. I listened to his colleagues when I was in Opposition. The Minister has been fair in reflecting the opinions of Senators who expressed apprehension. He has noted the points made and we should have confidence in him.

I thank Senator Ormonde for accurately reflecting the spirit of the provision but if Senator Costello requires reassurance, as he clearly does, I have no difficulty coming back on Report Stage with an addendum to that subsection to provide that consultation shall take place between the Government and the authority in terms of giving effect to its policies.

That would be excellent. I will not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 14, between lines 4 and 5, to insert a new paragraph as follows:

"(d)have regard to the attainment of gender equity and of equality of opportunity in education.".

I am of the view that this is covered in section 4(1)(e) as one of the objects of the Bill and it is unnecessary to accept the amendment. That subsection provides that one object of the Bill will be "to promote access and opportunities for all learners, including learners with special educational and training needs". Section 4(2) provides that every body and person concerned in the implementation of the Bill shall have regard to the objects in carrying out their functions under it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Section 9 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 14, subsection (1), line 16, after "may" to insert "after consultation with the institutions".

The Minister said consultation with the institutions is part of the aim of the Bill and perhaps he could include this in his overnight reverie concerning Report Stage. There should be more reference to consultation. I will not press the amendment but it is important. There will have to be consultation with the institutions involved and, while I do not expect the Minister to accept my wording, it is important to say this. As Senator Manning said, consultation does not mean one takes any notice of what the other person says, but at least one can say that one has consulted him or her.

It is not clear from the amendment what institutions are in mind but the Senator said she is not pre-occupied with the terminology, she is concerned with the principle. The intent of section 10 is to clarify and distinguish the respective areas of further and higher education and training and the respective roles of the National Qualifications Authority and the two awarding councils. It would be a matter for the authority to determine whether a programme is higher or further education and training, or whether the standard of knowledge or skill of a learner seeking an award is at further or higher education and training level. In considering this the authority shall have regard to either or both the programme or the standard of knowledge or skill acquired by the learner. Section 10 effectively sets down that the qualification authority may determine what is further or higher education and training.

The amendment does not set out who should be consulted, which could accidentally lead to a requirement for broad consultation on what could be a relatively minor issue relating to an individual programme or an individual stating to the authority that he should receive certification at a certain level. It is not necessary in this section. We have included it in a the broader earlier section and that is sufficient.

The Minister knows well my concerns and I rely on him to deal with them.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 10 agreed to.
Section 11 agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 23, 23a and 37 are related, and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 15, subsection (1), line 12, after "Council" where it firstly occurs, to insert "of Ireland".

These amendments were tabled by Senators Manning and McDonagh. On receiving the amendments the Government tabled a similar amendment with correct wording to meet the spirit of the amendment regarding a transition period.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 23a:
In page 15, subsection (4), line 24, to delete "three" and substitute "five".
Amendment agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 15, subsection 2 (d) , line 40, to delete "two persons" and substitute "one person".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 15, subsection 2 (e) , line 41, to delete "two persons" and substitute "one person".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 16, paragraph (f), line 4 after "committee," to insert "one of whom shall be a current Adult Education Organiser nominated by the AEOA,".

In providing for membership of the Further Education and Training Awards Council the aim has been for a balanced, representative, cohesive and effective membership in terms of its objects and functions. The Senator will note that both the Minister for Education and Science and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will each nominate two persons. Furthermore, there are four representatives of providers of education and training among the membership. Of these four, two must be representative of institutions established by a vocational education committee. The provisions afford sufficient discretion and flexibility to give consideration to the adult education interests, particularly those in the VEC sector, which the Senator has highlighted by tabling this amendment. We stood back from specifying in too detailed a way who should be on the council.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 27 not moved.
Section 13 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 17, subsection (2)(a), line 14, after "requirements," to insert "and international and national trends in education and training,".

That is already covered by the Bill in section 4 which sets out the objects of the Bill and in sections 8, 14 and 23 under the functions of the National Qualifications Authority and the two awards councils. These objects and functions cannot be achieved unless these bodies are fully informed and aware of both national and international trends in education and training. In particular, the National Qualifications Authority has an important liaison function with international awarding bodies and will need to understand the operation of these to facilitate recognition of international qualifications and the international recognition of Irish qualifications. Most importantly, it is also provided that each of the new bodies to be established must include in its membership at least one person who has international experience related to each body's functions. In addition, the specific objects and functions in this regard are set out for the National Qualifications Authority and the two awards councils. Senator McDonagh is anxious that we insert a reference to international and national trends in education and training, but there is no need. It is covered.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 29 not moved.
Section 14 agreed to.
Sections 15 to 20, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 30 to 36, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 23, subsection (4), line 20, to delete "three" and substitute "five".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 21, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 23, subsection 1(d), line 36, to delete "two persons" and substitute "one person".

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 39 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 22 stand part of the Bill."

In section 22 we have moved from 13 to 15 members. Would the Minister like to elaborate on the reasons for this? Could he clarify the number of those 15 members who will be nominated by the Minister, including the chairperson and the chief executive?

I will not nominate the chief executive. I will the nominate the chairperson and two nominees.

The Minister will also confirm the "one person nominated by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment". It is also provided that there will be "one person who, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative of learners in recognised institutions". That is five.

It is also provided that there will be "one person who, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative of employees of recognised institutions", "one person nominated by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation" and "one person nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions".

That is eight, or approximately 50 per cent.

They are not all my nominees. Various Government Departments have different institutions under their aegis or with which they work. For example, in the case of the nominee of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the nomination will come from that Minister. It is all part of the balance which is part of this Bill. Most people would be aware of the different perspectives of the business world and the educational world and the need to develop this co-ordinated framework. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment had a very close involvement with my Department in terms of prior consultations in drafting the Bill, etc. which was quite correct. The same applies to other Departments. The Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation would be interested because of the tourism industry and CERT courses. We try to reflect that in the membership and composition of the authority.

The Minister for Education and Science may appoint the chairperson plus two more people. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employ ment can appoint two people and one of them would represent learners. This provision covers FÁS which is within the remit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Similar educational sectors would also be represented. The same applies to employers who provide programmes of further education and training. Does the Senator think there are too many ministerial appointments?

Section 22(1)(g) provides for one person who is representative of learners in recognised institutions. It would not be easy to devise another mechanism by which learners could be represented. That is not going to be easy. For example, in terms of the qualifications authority we are working on a provision similar to this, that the Minister would nominate a representative of learners. We could do that by looking at all the various bodies that cover learners in PLCs, institutes, universities, FÁS, CERT, etc. All those various constituencies could elect a student or learner and then the Minister of the day could pick one of the people elected. I cannot think of any other mechanism by which we could do that.

I presume we can transfer the same principle to the authority. For example, we could get a learner on the board of the authority and the council.

That is what I envisage. Subsection (2)(g) provides for that in the council.

There is no provision to include the authority.

I give a commitment to the House that following this debate we will try to include the authority. However, the Senator could say the Minister is appointing this person, which means there is more ministerial control. I would disagree with that line of thought. For example, the Minister appoints a member of USI to the Higher Education Authority but we do not control that USI representative nor would we want to. I believe the section is well balanced.

Mr. Ryan

In section 22 the Minister proposes that three persons will be nominated by the recognised institutions. It deals with a small number of people and that is a fair amount of nominees. However, various types of institutions will be involved. Some of them will have delegated authority and some will not. It would be worthwhile for the Minister to provide for a distribution of the representation from the recognised institutions that would reflect their various roles.

That is a powder keg question.

Senator Ryan likes powder kegs.

Mr. Ryan

No, I like suggesting ideas to a Minister who likes to hear them.

I try to make things easier for my successors in this office.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 24, subsection (1)(a)(ii), line 26, after "training" to insert the following:

": Provided that no programme of higher education and training shall be validated by the Council, unless submitted for validation by an institution which has been an institution to which the National Council for Educational Awards Act of 1979 applied under the terms of section 1 of that Act or in the case of any other institutions, is an institution which has been subject to an institutional review by the Council similar to that previously carried out by the National Council for Educational Awards under the National Council for Educational Awards Act, 1979,".

I tabled my amendment because it reflects a fear among some interested parties about one of the consequences of this Bill. At present, apart from university courses, higher education courses can be submitted for validation only by institutions designated under the NCEA Act. They must go through a review process in order to be designated. This Bill, in abolishing the NCEA and the whole institutional process, leaves it open to any individual, corporate entity or institution to apply to the proposed Higher Education and Training Awards Council for validation. People are afraid that they can do this irrespective of academic facilities, track record or resources. They believe there is a danger that in the absence of a screening process being enshrined in statute institutions which do not have the appropriate higher education infrastructure and resources to sustain them may, for a variety of reasons, have courses validated. I am not sure that fear is real but it has been expressed to me.

The impact of Senator Manning's amendment is to require an institutional review along the lines of the review being undertaken by the NCEA. It states that it would be necessary before any programme could be validated. However, under this Bill any provider of training and education, regardless of the source of the provision, whether it be an educational institution or in the workplace, can apply to the further council or the higher council for validation of a programme. Section 2 states:

"provider of a programme in education training" means a person who, or body which, provides, organises or procures a programme of education and training. . . . .

A programme of education and training is defined as "any process by which learners may acquire knowledge, skill or competence and includes courses of study or instruction, apprenticeships, training and employment. . . ". Validation is defined as "the process by which an awarding body shall satisfy itself that a learner may attain knowledge, skill or competence for the purpose of an award . . . . ".

The intent is to facilitate ready and flexible access for providers of educational training to enable them to have their programmes validated where the relevant awarding council is of the view that such programmes meet the necessary validation criteria. The Bill does not outline how an awarding body will validate a programme. However, it will be one of the primary functions of each of the new awarding bodies.

The awarding body can satisfy itself that a learner may attain the standard of knowledge, skill or competence that is necessary. This may be an outputs only approach or one that looks at both process and outcomes. In some instances, where the process is not formalised, the validation process may be largely based on outcomes. However, it is appropriate for the awarding body to look at some of the processes involved in learners attaining standards of knowledge, skill or competence in more formal settings.

I am not in favour of standardising the validation proposal in a formal detailed manner. That is what I would be doing if I accepted this amendment. Validation is being left to the awarding councils both in terms of the process and the outputs.

Is the Minister happy that the councils will provide a screening process and that it is safeguarded in the Bill? The provision of a screening process is one of the first responsibilities of all the new councils.

We cannot have a situation where fly by night operators can set up and are validated for programmes without having libraries or resources to sustain them.

As the Senator knows, there are bonding provisions in the Bill which will prevent that from happening. It would require academic and financial bonding.

I can see where Senator Manning is coming from. Various educational institutions have approached me about this provision. After hearing the Minister's reply I am happy that the validation process will be protected and that any programme will get the proper validation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 41 and 42 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 41:

In page 24, subsection (1), line 36, after "section 29" to add;

": Provided that the Council in so determining under this subsection in relation to the standards, skill or competence to be acquired by learners, for the conferring, granting or giving of a degree, diploma, certificate of knowledge or other educational award should have regard to any corresponding standard required by a university in the State and shall not recommend a standard which is lower than such a standard (if any)".

I understand the approach being taken in these amendments. The approach proposed is that the work of the higher council and the standards set by it should be cross-referenced to the standards in the universities.

I note that when the Higher Council of Education of Awards was set up, this cross-reference was included to ensure there would be high standards for awards by the NCEA. However, it is more than 20 years since the NCEA came into force. I do not think it shows parity of esteem across higher education and training for the awards and standards of one body to be defined in terms of the standards of the universities. I have consulted with the institutes of technology on this issue and they do not favour the retention in the Bill of the reference to the standards prevailing in the universities.

The Bill establishes the qualifications authority to develop the framework of qualifications, a framework which will include university awards. It is through this work that the standards setting of the higher council will be informed. I do not favour explicit references to universities in this section.

Much of the wording of this amendment envisages the work of the higher council being in a very standard educational-type area with a clear syllabus. I hope the work of both of the new councils, while continuing with the existing academic role of the NCEA, can encompass other broader forms of learning that might lead to its awards. Therefore, I cannot accept the amendments.

Mr. Ryan

It is precisely this kind of language, the university as the definition of standards, that makes people in the other equal partner in third level education get very touchy. It is time we moved on. There are other ways of determining standards. Sometimes, perhaps, a little bit of the external determination of standards the rest of us must live with might be good for the universities.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 42 not moved.
Section 23 agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 will be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 43:

In page 25, subsection (2)(a), line 43, to delete "or".

The impact of these amendments is to extend the recognised institutions of the higher council to include all institutions at present designated by the NCEA. Section 24 provides for the recognised institutions of the higher council. The recognised institutions will effectively be the institutions established under section 3 of the Regional Technical Colleges Act, 1992, that is, the 11 institutes of technology and the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. These institutions have a key role in the membership of the higher council, as set out in section 22, and will be the focus of much of its work and endeavour. These institutions are also the only providers that may seek delegation of authority from the council to make higher education and training awards under section 29.

This section also provides that the Minister may by order designate any other institution established by or under an Act of the Oireachtas, or by a Minister, or by the Government, as a recognised institution of the higher council. The aim here is to ensure that should further types of third level institutions be developed by the State, it will be possible to recognise them as recognised institutions under the section. It is not the intention that providers with a small element of higher education and training provision would be included here.

I do wish to extend the arrangements for designated institutions greatly. The aim of the validation arrangements is that any provider can seek validation of a programme. It is in this way that I consider that all those existing designated institutions can still maintain their national awards. It is of note that the institutes of technology which are to become recognised institutions will need to have all their higher education and training programmes validated by the higher council. I do not envisage requiring other State institutions or private institutions to have to do this other than where they are named in the Bill.

Most importantly, I do not favour the State legislating for a whole range of providers being able to seek delegated authority from the Higher Council to make awards.

I would like to give the Seanad some background to the thinking underpinning recognised institutions of the higher council. You will recall that the then Minister, Niamh Bhreathnach, on 4 February 1997, established a high level group to advise on the criteria which would be applied to the redesignation of a regional technical college as an institute of technology, including the devolution of responsibility to colleges within the technological sector in relation to the award of qualifications, at various levels, within a national certification framework and also to advise on the most appropriate means whereby institutions would be independently evaluated in relation to such criteria.

The principal recommendations of the report of the high level group, which was published on 7 May 1997, are as follows: (1) to establish on a statutory basis an Irish national institute of technology as the successor body to the current National Council for Educational Awards for awarding qualifications in the technological sector; (2) following consultation with the colleges, to change the title of all regional technical colleges to one of the titles set out as options in the report, all of which incorporate the common feature "Institute of Technology"; and (3) to establish a process for the delegation of authority by the Irish National Institute of Technology to individual colleges for awarding their certificates, diplomas, degrees and other qualifications.

It is on the basis of these proposals that policy has been developed for the technological sector of higher education. This inputs clearly into the rationale for separate recognised institution status for the existing institutes of technology. This is part of the way the Bill sets out arrangements for the structured development of the technological sector of higher education. The Government does not favour the broadening of recognised institution status in the way that has been proposed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 44 not moved.
Sections 24 to 27, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 28 stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Ryan

On the question of quality assurance, where is the quality assurance procedure for the higher council? I am concerned about the numbers of agencies telling other people they must meet quality assurance standards without any obligation on themselves to meet some externally moderated standards, as in ISO 9000, or some equivalent standard of quality assurance. It is a travesty of any understanding of quality assurance, or of quality, to have the body which is enforcing quality exempt from meeting appropriate quality assurance standards while it demands such standards from subordinate bodies. How it is proposed that the various validating bodies will assure quality and how will we be assured they will meet approved quality standards?

My understanding of the Bill is that the functions of the higher council are being reviewed and that provisions for review of the operations of the council by the qualifications authority is set out in section 9.

Mr. Ryan

As Senator Manning graphically described earlier, one of the less attractive features of most systematic quality assurance programmes is an enormous amount of paper. Most people seem to believe that in spite of the burden, it is worth it. One cannot have a simple means of assuring quality. Including a phrase "there shall be a review of the higher council and of the further council" is not the same as saying that there should be a proper quality assurance system in place. Putting in place a structure of need to operate, make decisions within reasonable time limits, etc., and stating we expect it to be periodically reviewed, is not the proper way to build a quality assurance system.

The qualifications authority has a number of functions in relation to this review. I refer Senator Ryan to sections 58, 59 and 60 which contain an obligation to publish accounts, plans, reports, etc. I am satisfied that a detailed and exhaustive system is in place and I believe it will work effectively. We will keep the system under review to see how it operates in practice.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 29 stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Ryan

Section 29 involves the delegation of authority by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council. Will the Minister of State indicate what is being delegated in terms of the making of awards by recognised institutions? Do I understand that the right to award the range of diplomas and certificates currently recognised by institutes of technology and awarded by the National Council for Educational Awards would be delegated to an institution by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council? If that institution proposes to introduce a new diploma, is it obliged to refer back to the Higher Education and Training Awards Council or, by virtue of the fact it has been granted delegated authority, can it introduce such a diploma? Will it be obliged to refer seek the authority to award certificates and diplomas in respect of every new course it intends to introduce?

The answer to the Senator's question is "no". The intention in section 29 is that, if the authority is delegated following the appropriate procedure, institutions will be given the power to grant diplomas, degrees, etc., at a certain level without the necessity of having to refer back to the council on each occasion a new degree or diploma is introduced at that level.

Mr. Ryan

I am glad to hear it because at least one institute of technology made vigorous representations to me that it did not take that inference from the wording used in the section. I believe the Minister of State accepts that this is an important consideration but further clarification is required. It must be made clear that this involves the delegation of a function in respect of any range of courses an institution intends to offer and is not merely a simple delegation of existing functions. That is an important distinction. I welcome what the Minister of State said but it is not clear from the section.

The Minister indicated his intention in writing and in reply to parliamentary questions on a number of occasions. I am aware that if it comes to interpretation of legislation, the Minister's intention will carry very little weight. I am satisfied that the wording used is quite clear, but in view of Senator Ryan's concerns I will undertake to reconsider it between now and the time the legislation is debated in the other House.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 30 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 45:

In page 31, between lines 25 and 26, to insert a new paragraph as follows:

"(h)the arrangements for the admission of learners with specific learning needs;".

Section 31 provides that any recognised institution that has delegated authority to make awards should have a charter. This is conditional on the charter not being in conflict with the Regional Technical Colleges Acts. The primary purpose of having a charter is to recognise the fact that recognised institutions have a greater level of autonomy by virtue of the fact that they have delegated authority to make awards and to facilitate them in making a mission statement as to their role and functions. It will be noted that, while the Minister may make regulations for the purpose of specifying matters to be included in such charters, these matters are not necessarily limited to those specified in subsection (2), a fact the section makes quite clear.

In keeping with the Government's policy of partnership and inclusiveness, section 31 also provides that in preparing a charter the governing body of a recognised institution concerned will consult with the qualifications authority, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, the academic and non-academic staff of the institutions, trade unions, student unions and any other group or person it deems should be consulted. The purpose has been to ensure that the formulation of charters should be as flexible as possible, while taking cognisance of the views of all interested parties.

With regard to the specifics of the proposed amendment, namely, the admission of learners with specific needs, this is effectively covered in section 4(1)(e) which relates to the general objects of the Bill. Furthermore, the provisions dealing with charters already includes under paragraph (d) "its arrangements for the implementation of procedures for access, transfer and progression".

Finally, the provisions of the Bill relating to charters are both appropriate and flexible enough to cater for the needs of the institutions concerned. I have stressed that while the Minister may make regulations for the purpose of specifying matters to be included in such charters, these matters are not necessarily restricted to those specified in subsection (2). Therefore, there is no need to accept the amendment.

I accept the Minister of State's assertion that the matter to which the amendment refers is covered in an earlier section. However, that section includes other elements for which provision is made also made in section 31. Therefore, I cannot see why this provision, which is very desirable, could not again be referred to specifically, particularly if the promotion of the Irish language is mentioned in both sections. We should make a second reference to the admission of learners with specific learning needs in order to emphasise the need to deal with this area.

I recognise the thrust of the Senator's argument and I will speak to the Minister about this matter. I do not believe the legislation would be damaged by including a specific reference to learners with specific learning needs because section 31(2) states that "without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing such matters may include, but not necessarily be limited to, all or any of the following. . . . " I take the Senator's point that an appropriate signal would be sent out by using a specific reference.

It would be appropriate to include the specific reference outlined in the amendment. Having said that, however, the section is very wide and, as the Minister of State indicated, the governing bodies of the institutions concerned can relate to the community or the council in respect of the specific needs of individuals who may require access, etc. The section is quite detailed and it encompasses many matters. It would be easy to include the specific reference, otherwise we should reinforce the provision that the governing body of the institution relate to the needs of the community.

I thank the Minister of State for accepting the spirit of the amendment. If he can find an appropriate place to insert the reference between now and Report Stage or when the legislation is debated in the Lower House, I will be satisfied.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 32, subsection (7), line 4, to delete "The" and substitute "At the request of a recognised institution or where necessary to comply with subsection (5), the".

Section 31, where authority has been given to a recognised institution, and where it has been delegated to make awards, provides that the institution shall have the entitlement of having a charter and provides for elements of that charter including consultation with the various bodies such as the academic staff, the employees of the institution, the trade unions and the students unions and other appropriate groups. Then the Minister seems to remove this in section 31(7), which provides that "the Minister may by order amend or revoke an order made under this subsection". In other words the Minister may revoke the charter for which he has so painstakingly made provision for any institution that is now delegated to make awards. He is making provision to act in a high-handed fashion without any consultation. The foregoing part of the section deals with the wide range of consultation and the making of the charter. Then there are two lines allowing the Minister to use the hatchet without any consultation and to revoke the charter. We need an amendment allowing greater consultation and flexibility with the recognised institution.

The intention of the Senator is not clear from the wording of the amendment. Is it intended that the Minister may only amend or revoke the order at the request of the recognised institution? This is not appropriate as an order can only be made by the Minister and hence only amended or revoked by him. For example, all recognised institutions with delegated authority to make awards are required to have a charter under this section. Should a recognised institution lose that delegated authority it would be appropriate for the Minister for revoke the order. Under the amendment proposed, the Minister could not do this, yet such a recognised institution would not be allowed a charter under the Bill. What is the rationale behind the amendment?

The rationale is that there is a welcome provision made for a charter to be provided for any institution that has been given the delegated authority and is a very comprehensive set of consultation provisions. Subsection (5) provides that a draft charter shall be submitted by the governing body of the recognised institution concerned to the Minister with a request that the proposed charter be recognised. Then the Minister may by order recognise the charter as so drafted. Only when there would be a request to the Minister in relation to an order would he recognise it or not. He should not simply by edict revoke it. If it was a question of the Minister revoking an order, he should have a wide range of consultation that would mirror the level of consultation that took place by the institution in drawing up the charter for which the Minister's approval was sought.

I am not happy with the reference in the amendment to the request of the recognised institution but I recognise there is a need for consultation. The Minister will consider this before the Bill is debated in the Dáil.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That section 31 stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Ryan

This charter is a welcome development but it is a pity that the right of the community within the institution is not prescribed in it, such as the rights of staff and students. A considerable part of the charter is do with consultation and co-operation with the community, its policy of adult and continuing education but these are philosophical and external matters, apart from quality assurance. There is also a community within an institution, including the staff and students. It is possible to incorporate this in the charter but it would be valid to add that to the list of things that may be done, such as appeals procedures and a commitment to natural justice in terms of appeals. These are important for the community within the institution.

I accept what Senator Ryan is saying but the legislation places no boundary as to what can be in the charter. That will be solely for the institution itself and we are not seeking to limit that in any way.

I support the point made by Senator Ryan but the Minister is right . The possibility of a charter offers great possibilities for the first time to have a philosophical underpinning of the institutions. I would hope there would be encouragement to those drawing up the charters to take on this sort of thinking.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 32 to 37, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 47 and 48 not moved.
Section 38 agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 49 and 50 may be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 49:

In page 36, lines 1 to 5, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following subsection:

"(1)The Institute shall, through its Academic Council, in consultation with the Authority, as soon as practicable after the commencement of this Part, continue to implement and develop its established procedures for Quality Assurance for the purpose of further improving and maintaining the quality of education and training which is provided by the institute."

This is to try to give more weight to the academic council. Senator Ryan talked about quality assurance and it is to ensure that the academic council of the institute shall be involved in this quality assurance.

I do not accept this amendment. The essence of the amendment is that the Dublin Institute of Technology should have completely different quality assurance arrangements to the other providers of educational training under the aegis of the qualifications authority or the two new awarding councils. It is suggested that the established procedures of the Dublin Institute of Technology be underpinned in legislation in a way that not even the quality assurance procedures of Trinity College, in existence for over 400 years, were underpinned in the universities legislation less than two years ago.

I cannot propose support for this amendment. The Bill provides that all providers of education and training, under the aegis of the qualifications authority, will have broadly similar quality assurance requirements set out in the legislation. There is no external guarantee of the quality assurance of the Dublin Institute of Technology set out in the Senator's proposed amendment. The effect would be that the qualifications authority would not be in a position to oversee properly the quality assurance procedures of the Dublin Institute of Technology.

The Bill sets out that the Dublin Institute of Technology should agree its quality assurance procedures with the qualifications authority. I do not see how this can be opposed. Other institutes of technology must agree their quality assurance procedures with the higher education council under the Bill. Why should the Dublin Institute of Technology not agree theirs with the qualifications authority?

Similarly it is proposed that the Dublin Institute of Technology will review their own procedures every 15 years. Where is the independent verification of this? I understand that the provisions that are being proposed here are generally those that have been in place in the universities sector for just under two years. However, it must be noted that the Minister has been advised independently that for the time being the Dublin Institute of Technology should not be a university.

Having examined the detail of the relevant reports, we are recommending the provisions in this Bill. The Nally report recommends that the institute needs to review:

the design and application of its quality assurance and peer review processes in order to ensure that effective systems of monitoring standards appropriate to the different levels of qualifications in the institute and in line with best international practice are in place. Specific attention is required now in relation to quality assurance and peer review processes in the postgraduate and research areas.

I fully recognise and applaud the development of the Dublin Institute of Technology in recent years. The Government has supported this development strongly. Unfortunately, while the review was a very positive experience for the Dublin Institute of Technology, the institute will not become a university unless there is a further review. I do not propose support for this amendment, which would result essentially in the Dublin Institute of Technology having the same quality assurance procedures as the existing universities.

The Act states that institutes shall as soon as is practicable establish procedures for quality assurance. Is there any reason the Dublin Institute of Technology should not state that its tried and tested quality assurance mechanism, the academic council, would be reinstated under the provisions of this Act? This amendment could be effected under the Act in that fashion.

I am informed there has been an independent review recommending that they carry out much improvement in those processes.

They will love to hear that.

If the Senator wishes, I can get further information on this and communicate with him in writing.

I would appreciate that.

I cannot seek things for the Dublin Institute of Technology that Trinity College does not have. If I did I would be in a terrible bind.

That is the killer blow. If Trinity does not have it, why should the Dublin Institute of Technology have it? Perish the thought.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 50 to 52, inclusive, not moved.
Section 39 agreed to.
Amendment No. 53 not moved.
Government amendment No. 53a:
In page 36, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following new subsection:
"(2)A university shall provide such information as the Authority may from time to time require for the purposes of the performance of the functions of the Authority.".

Senator McDonagh initially proposed a relatively simple amendment. I outlined in detail the approach in the Bill to the seven existing universities. Furthermore, section 40 (1) provides that a university shall co-operate with and give all reasonable assistance to the authority in carrying out its functions. It should not be too difficult for one of these universities to supply the qualifications authority with information appropriate to its functions. Therefore, I proposed a similar amendment to Senator McDonagh but positioned in a different way in the section.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 54 not moved.
Section 40, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 55 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 41 stand part of the Bill."

There is a great danger in this proposal because it will create a two tier university system. The autonomy of the existing universities is substantially protected in section 40, which merely provides that a university shall co-operate with and give all reasonable assistance to the authority in carrying out its functions. This autonomy is not to be allowed for any new universities that may be established under section 9 of the 1997 Act.

While under section 41(2)(a) of the Bill the same provision about co-operation with and giving assistance to the authority is to apply to the new universities, section 41(2)(b) would bring them directly under the control of the proposed authority. In effect, this subsection requires such new universities to implement procedures for access, transfer and progression determined by the authority under section 8(2)(d) in so far as these procedures apply to the relevant university concerned.

This Bill prescribes a series of other obligations to be imposed on the new universities that do not apply to existing universities. These include under section 41(6) what appear to be tight controls over the internal use of moneys provided to such a university by the HEA, including a power of direction by the Higher Education Authority in the use of these moneys. These are the type of controls many of us succeeded in avoiding during the preparation and enactment of the 1997 Act.

It could be argued that the existing universities might benefit by having their independent status distinguished thus from that of the new universities. As against this, it seems undesirable on general grounds to allow the emergence of Irish institutions to be described as universities, which would lack the autonomy appropriate to a university institution.

There are other factors which, perhaps, suggest that the level of bureaucratic control over the new universities would be far greater than that over the existing universities. Universities are always conscious of attacks on their autonomy. There is a fear, maybe unjustified, that this section could represent a further attack on that autonomy.

Another consideration could be the possible further interpretation of the general clauses in the 1997 Act providing for university autonomy. If these provisions are passed without modification of the 1997 Act – and no such modification is proposed in the Government's amendments – it could be open to a future Government to claim retrospectively that the kind of controls proposed here must by definition be compatible with autonomy because the Oireachtas enacted them without seeing any need to modify the autonomy proposals of 1997.

I oppose this section. Rather than press it to a vote, I ask the Minister and his officials to consider these points with a view to discussing the matter further on Report Stage.

Senator Manning expressed eloquently the concerns many of us have about this section. I want the Dublin Institute of Technology and the new universities to have similar arrangements to Trinity College. This is very serious from a financial point of view, especially from a fund-raising point of view. There could be great reticence on the part of private donors to third level institutions because of this section. We constantly talking about having business and technology involved in universities and in the Bill business, technology and industry are cited as being important influences on universities. However, this section will put them off because they will not have autonomy. Their contribution could easily be seen as a subscription towards the central finances of a university.

Senator Manning made the point very well. Let us not push this to a vote. The Minister should think about the matter overnight to see if it might be addressed.

I do not share the views of my two colleagues on this matter. I see this as establishing a two-tier system in the opposite direction. This is the type of provision we need to provide regulation and, as section 41(2)(b) states, to "implement procedures for access, transfer and progression . . .".

Section 42 seeks to provide standards and quality assurance. We need to provide these at university level in the same way as at the level of institutes of technology. By simply making the provision applicable to new universities one is allowing the existing institutions to avoid required standards for access by the nation's children to an equal and fair education with quality assurance and accountability.

Whether we like it or not, autonomy can exist alongside accountability. There is no reason why UCD or Trinity cannot be autonomous while at the same time being accountable in terms of the procedures and systems they have in operation, so that they are supervised by an over-arching regulatory authority that will look at them in the same way as it will look at further education and the technology sector. The Minister should be extending this section, not omitting it.

I am not happy with section 40(1) which provides that "A university shall [simply] co-operate with and give all reasonable assistance to the Authority in carrying out its functions". That is gobbledygook. The universities will do no such thing. They will have to give only what they consider to be co-operation and reasonable assistance. There must be systems and procedures in place otherwise we will not get the required results. They are not in place at present.

I wish to refer to an article in the Irish Independent of 15 March 1999, entitled “Third level drop-outs cost the taxpayer £50 million a year”. The article states:

Up to 10,000 students drop out of college every year at a cost to the taxpayer of £50 million, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors has claimed. Institute president, Róisín Kelleher, said that between 25 per cent and 27 per cent of students do not complete their courses and the average cost to the State for each third level place was £5,000 a year.

There is a great need for proper progression, standards and accessibility. We want to know what is happening at every sector of third level and further education. I do not want to see a two tier system in operation, but I fear that such a system will operate if we do not bring universities within the ambit of the full rigours of the legislation, which prescribes the mechanism for quality control. I do not think that will undermine the autonomy of those institutions, rather it will enhance it.

I really do not know what the article Senator Costello read out has to do with the matter. The drop-out rate at Tallaght Institute of Technology is about the same at that for first year science students at UCD. Are we getting people into the wrong courses or are the courses wrong? We must look at that issue because it is a very serious one. Tallaght Institute of Technology is not a university and its drop-out rate is the same as that for university courses. If universities were being funded totally by the State this would be fine, but they are not. We are being told we must raise private funds.

I am also bewildered by Senator Costello's intervention on the question of drop-out rates. It is a total red herring.


Drop-out rates have nothing to do with a university's autonomy or with bureaucratic control. We could debate all night why people drop out. There are a variety of factors. Senator Costello misses the point of what I said – I want the new universities to have the same freedom and autonomy as existing ones. It would not be desirable to have a two-tier structure whereby one sector is seen to be in some way stifled by greater bureaucratic control than the other. It is simply a question of levelling up rather than levelling down. I am quite sure that if one spoke to the people in the new universities one would find they share this concern and that they want the same status as the other universities.

Is it all right for the institutes of technology?

It depends who one talks to.

That is the two-tier system.

I would like the Minister to reflect on this matter. I am not asking him for an answer overnight. There is a substantial point here upon which I would like him to reflect. Perhaps he could return to it on Report Stage or when the debate on the matter reaches the Lower House.

With regard to the report on drop-out rates, I attended the conference where the issue arose. The particular line quoted was taken totally out of context. It was raised as part of a broader issue relating to the various access routes from second to third level. Guidance counsellors have a big role to play in that respect.

It is not the fault of the universities that students drop out and it is wrong to suggest it is so. Let us return to the central issue of the debate. I am concerned about the two-tier system, but I will not become involved in that issue because the section is complicated enough. At this late hour I cannot think about it. I would prefer to discuss it tomorrow because it is quite detailed and encompasses the fact that if a new university is founded we may have to look at quality assurance, new programmes and accountability.

There is a huge diversity of courses in many institutes, much more so than in a university. The Dublin Institute of Technology, for example, is doing superb work, taking students from certifi cate level upwards. There is such a large and diverse range of courses that the section might be teased out further in that context. I will await the Minister's intervention on the matter.

It is not the Government's intention to have a two-tier university system. It is not a question of having two tiers of universities but of having two different types of university. My understanding is that this proposal, as stated in the legislation, has been agreed at Government level following wide consultation and advice which the Government received. Therefore, I cannot undertake to make any changes tonight. In deference to the reasonable manner in which Senator Manning made his case, I will undertake to communicate what he has said to the Minister.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 42 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 56:

In page 39, subsection (1), lines 2 to 4, to delete "which is provided by a provider which intends to operate programmes of education and training on a commercial and profit-making basis,".

This concerns the bonding of private colleges. The bonding proposals here seem unduly onerous on private colleges, which have proposed a number of changes to this Bill. There is a danger that these proposals would create such a huge burden for the colleges that they might be driven out of business. If we accept that there is a place in the system for these private colleges, not all of which operate for profits, we should not make it almost impossible for them to operate through a bonding system which seems almost punitive. A balance must be struck. The colleges do not want fly by night operators and disreputable colleges ripping students off. They are conscious of the high standards they must live up to.

The Minister of State will be aware of the concerns of these colleges – there is one in Limerick city that he is probably familiar with. I ask the Minister of State to come back on Report Stage if he does not answer me now.

I support Senator Manning. This is desperately important to learners because too many people have run into terrible financial trouble with these commercial colleges. One situated near this House went out of existence. However, I agree with Senator Manning that this section is very onerous.

I have experienced this as well and bonding is very important. I accept Senator Manning's point of view but one cannot over-emphasise how important it is for students and their parents to know that if a course collapses they will have access to a similar programme.

Senator Manning is right in saying that representations have been made by a number of private colleges. Unfortunately, this amendment will not work but the Minister is open to any constructive suggestion for amending the section in a way that ensures the interests of learners with awards made by the new awarding bodies in private commercial institutions would be protected. Department officials have discussed these provisions with some commercial third level institutions and have given this indication to them. However, other than the provisions now included in this section, it is not clear as to how the interests of such institutions can be protected at this time. If there are any proposals to change these provisions or if we can find more appropriate proposals to change them, the Minister would be disposed to introducing the appropriate amendments.

I am grateful for the Minister's reply and his open approach. I appreciate that my wording will not meet requirements. Between now and the Dáil dealing with this Bill there will be a chance for those most affected by this section to draft an amendment to meet their needs.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 43 agreed to.
Amendment No. 57 not moved.
Sections 44 and 45 agreed to.
Government amendment No. 58:
In page 40, subsection (1), lines 30 to 33, to delete ", whether the programme concerned is accommodated through the procedures for access, transfer or progression referred to in section 8(2)(d) and the extent of such accommodation" and substitute the following:
(i)whether the programme concerned is accommodated through the procedures for access, transfer or progression referred to in section 8(2)(d) and the extent of such accommodation, and
(ii)of the name of the awarding body which shall make the award where the learner successfully completes the programme concerned and the title of that award".
Amendment agreed to.
Section 46, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 47 stand part of the Bill."

This section provides that the reserve fund shall not be reckoned to be part of the assets of a provider of programmes of education and training and that such a fund shall not be used to discharge any liability of the provider other than in accordance with this Act. Where the reserve fund is provided out of assets of the private college the college is precluded from treating those assets as assets in its balance sheet. This effectively amounts to expropriation of assets and the presence of section 47 leaves the Bill open to constitutional challenge on the basis of the expropriation of assets.

We have had the advice of the Attorney General on this matter and he takes a different view of the constitutionality of the section.

The section is a technical provision to ensure that reserve fund or insurance cover referred to in section 43 cannot be included in the assets of a provider. We consider that the section is essential to ensure that it is the learners who can access the money should a provider be unable to complete the course. I understand Senator Manning's concern, but if the fund were operated in this way it would be possible that other creditors could gain access to the funds and I cannot therefore recommend acceptance of this amendment.

Far be it from me to disagree with the Attorney General, who was a student of mine when studying for his BA. He has come a long way since then. Legal advice is legal advice and we have all heard Ministers say they have the best advice from the Attorney General. On one occasion the Minister of Education had legal advice from the Attorney General and discovered overnight that it could be changed when Senator Quinn tabled an amendment.

Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 58a and 59 are to be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed. If amendment No. 58a is agreed to, amendment No. 59 cannot be moved.

Government amendment No. 58a:

In page 41, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following new paragraph:

"(c)fails to furnish the information which the provider concerned is required to furnish under section 45 or 46, or".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 59 not moved.
Section 48, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 49 to 53, inclusive, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 60:
In page 44, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following subsection:
"(3)A period referred to in subsection (2) shall not, for the purposes of any superannuation benefit, be reckoned as a service with the relevant body concerned.".
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed, "That section 54, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I see no reason why a Member of the Oireachtas should not be a member of these boards. I say it every time though it does not matter a bit.

I echo Senator Manning's comments. Does the Minister of State agree?

There are separate pension provisions. That is the rationale.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 55 to 66, inclusive, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 61:
In page 49, before the First Schedule, to insert the following section:
66.–(1) Except in relation to a provider of a programme of education and training established and described as such before the commencement of this Part (in which case it may continue to be so described), a person shall not, without the approval of the Minister, use the words ‘institute of technology' or ‘regional technical college' to describe a provider of a programme of education and training.
(2)The Minister may apply to the High Court for an injunction to restrain any person from using the words ‘institute of technology' or ‘regional technical college' in contravention of subsection (1).".
Amendment agreed to.
First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Second and Third Schedules agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 61a and 62 may be taken together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 61a:


Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 62 not moved.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

Acting Chairman

When is it proposed to take Report Stage?


Report Stage ordered for Thursday, 22 April 1999.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.05 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 22 April 1999.