I propose to take Questions Nos. 310 and 311 together.
I have accepted the recommendations set out in a report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on the structures of initial teacher education. The purpose of the report was to identify possible new structures to improve initial teacher education in Ireland so that it is comparable with the best in the world. The international panel of education experts recommended that teacher education be provided in six "centres for teacher education". Currently there are 19 state funded providers of ITE (and three non-state funded) offering more than 40 college programmes in primary and post-primary teaching. The new collaborations recommended by the international panel will mean that there will be a smaller number of centres for ITE offering education across multiple sectors from early childhood to primary, to post primary to adult education. These centres for teacher education will also possess a critical mass in terms of research capacity which is not always possible in smaller institutions.
The review panel suggested the Church of Ireland College of Education would be suitably positioned to join any of the first three new configurations. In the course of consultation, I have advised the college authorities that while I cannot support all colleges remaining on their current campus, I am happy for them to negotiate their own destiny, consistent with their desire to protect their ethos within the broad parameters of the HEA report. As you are aware, CICE publicly signalled its intention to join DCU, St Patrick's College, Drumcondra and the Mater Dei Institute and I understand discussions are ongoing.