University of Limerick (Dissolution of Thomond College) Bill, 1991: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am glad to be in the Seanad tonight moving this Bill. I did not want to call it the dissolution Bill. Nobody in my Department wanted to call it the dissolution Bill as we were all of the opinion that it was a negative word and did not take account of what was a very happy arrangement and one that will prove very fruitful in the future. We went to the drafts people with it and to those who give us legal advice and we were told that that word "dissolution" had to be inserted.

On 1 June 1989 I was present in this House to introduce a Bill conferring university status on the then NIHE Limerick. The Bill now before the House represents another important step in the development of the university. Its importance though, I should emphasise, lies in the fact that it deals with teacher training courses. These courses, which up to now have been provided in Thomond College, will, when this Bill is passed, be provided in the University of Limerick.

The quality of the education we provide for our young people depends in the main on the quality of our teachers. In this regard we have been quite fortunate but this quality does not simply happen, it is planned for and aimed at in our teacher training colleges.

In 1966 grave disquiet was expressed in the Investment in Education report regarding arrangements for the training of rural science, metalwork and woodwork teachers. The report also noted the absence of any facility for the training of male physical education teachers. This disquiet was echoed the following year by the Commission on Higher Education. At that time our male physical education teachers were either trained in England or were former military physical education instructors and our female physical education teachers were trained in two colleges in Dublin, Ling and St. Raphael's. Trainee teachers for the other subjects I referred to pursued courses of varying standards at centres in Cork Galway, Dublin and Gorey.

In early 1969, the newly established Higher Education Authority set up a working party to examine the position in relation to these courses. In their findings which were published in September 1970, the Authority endorsed the earlier opinions that the courses were unnecessarily dispersed throughout the country and recommended that they be concentrated in a single institution. They also recommended that any such new institution should be sited in Limerick.

The first step towards regularising the situation was taken in January 1971 when a site adjoining the then National Institute for Higher Education was purchased and the new institution commenced operating as the National College of Physical Education in January 1973. It may seem unusual that a third level institution should commence operations in the middle of the academic year but it had a readymade student body consisting of a group of male students who had commenced a teacher education course at Twickenham and two groups of female students who had commenced their courses at the two Dublin colleges I referred to earlier.

In 1979 courses for metalwork, woodwork and rural science teachers commenced in the college and, the following year, with the passing of the Thomond College of Education Act, 1980, it commenced operating as an institution with statutorily defined powers and functions.

That the initiative in centralising these courses in one institution has been successful is attested to on a daily basis in our second level schools in that graduates of the college are held nationally and internationally in high regard as teachers. There is little doubt that the general ambience of a sense of purpose which prevails in the college contributes in no small way to this success.

The importance of our teacher training courses, however, is emphasised by the fact that the demand/supply situation for teachers has to be continually monitored. During the eighties, for example, we began to experience a falling birth rate and this has had a major effect on the teacher training colleges. Thomond College was built to accommodate 1,100 students but has a total enrolment of only 392 students. There is an increasing demand across the board for all types of third level education.

The fact that the college and the university share a common campus led to the ease with which the merger was considered and brought about. I met with the authorities of the two institutions with a view to commencing a dialogue on the linking of the institutions. Arising from these talks a committee were set up comprising of representatives of the Higher Education Authority, Thomond College, the University of Limerick and the Department of Education, to consider how the resources of the two institutions could best be utilised in view of the outlook for the requirement for teachers in the years ahead and the demand for higher education places in general.

The committee were specifically asked in their terms of reference to consider how, within any proposed new institutional arrangement, the primary functions of Thomond — the training of teachers for service in schools and the provision of in-service training for teachers — could be discharged.

The committee issued their recommendations in October 1990. I pay tribute to that committee. They met and very swiftly brought out a report in October 1990. It is amazing that a report issued in 1990 is now being discussed in this House having passed through the Dáil. So often, not just in education but in other Departments, reports gather dust. Far from being tardy in this regard, we were in fact very swift and this was because there was such co-operation and determination from both groups. There was great goodwill and a genuine meeting of minds on the issue. Its main recommendation was that the college should be integrated with the university. They recommended that the Thomond College of Education Act should be repealed and that the management and academic structures of the university should be reorganised to facilitate the integration.

There is another consideration, however, which prompted the introduction of this Bill. Earlier this year we agreed the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. It represents a commitment to co-operation between the Government and the principal economic and social interests in society. In the introduction to it the Taoiseach pointed out that a small trading economy such as ours cannot prosper with divisive and competing interests.

No such programme, however, would be complete without provisions relating to the development of education. In paragraph 69(j) there is a specific commitment regarding the utilisation of spare capacity in the colleges of education, including Thomond. This is the first one which has got off the ground and will be the easier of the colleges of education in which to do this because it was directly set up by the Department and was relatively modern, etc. Talks are going on between the Department and the other institutions. I wish them well in that.

The Bill, therefore, will give effect to the integration as agreed of the two institutions and will also be a step towards meeting the obligation in the programme to provide extra third level places. What is proposed in this relatively simple Bill is the legislation necessary to give effect to the integration of Thomond into the University of Limerick. Consequently what we have to do is dissolve Thomond College as a legal entity, transfer the teaching training functions from the college to the university and transfer the staff, property, rights and liabilities of the college to the university.

In the drafting of this Bill I was anxious that there would be a provision which would ensure the continuance of the present high status given to the Irish language and culture in the college. I would direct attention, therefore, to section 10 of the Bill. To give the background to that, I met with the various interests before they started their talks with the HEA and afterwards, and then a couple of weeks ago I met with the main union involved.

Each group I met hoped there would be written into the Bill something quite specific regarding this matter and we were glad to do so. I have letters which I subsequently got from University College, Galway but mainly from staff in Thomond College and the University of Limerick specifically remarking on that measure in the Bill. They were appreciative that it was done. I know that this House expresses, and has always done, the same degree of need for positive measure in the Bill. They were appreciative that it was done. I know that this House expresses, and has always done, the same degree of need for positive measures such as this. When I was coming into the House I met with two of the Independent Senators who expressed the same view very positively to me.

There is a four year degree course in Irish and students taking this course achieve standards comparable to university graduates in Irish. This course is at present only available to physical education students as an "elective" or second subject. However, a mandatory three year course is taught to all students in the college to enable them to acquire the Department of Education's Irish language qualification for teachers. That came up in the debate in the Dáil. The college is also involved in providing various in-service courses for teachers and the earlier course to which I referred includes a mandatory three week Gaeltacht course for all students at the end of their first year.

In relation to the standard of Irish in the college it was very gratifying for me in the Dáil to hear Deputies Kemmy and McGinley quoting the view expressed by the external examiner, Professor Breandan Ó Madagáin of UCG. His view was "that the teaching of Irish to B.A. level in Thomond College is very impressive and well up to university standard both as regards language teaching of the literature courses. The teaching of the language itself, both oral and written deserves special commendation. One is impressed also by the spirit and enthusiasm among both staff and students, and the excellent rapport between them". I should add also that similar sentiments were expressed by his predecessor as external examiner, Professor Seán Ó Tuama of UCC.

As I stated earlier during the passage of the Bill through the Dáil last Wednesday there was a very useful discussion on section 10. The section as introduced in the Dáil read as follows:

The University in relation to the performance of its functions shall have due regard to the preservation and promotion of the Irish language and culture.

Two amendments were introduced and in deference to the sentiments expressed by Deputies J. Higgins and Tomás Mac Giolla I introduced a Ministerial amendment which encompassed, as far as possible, the views expressed

Section 10, therefore, as it stands is as it was amended in the Dáil and will apply to all the functions of the university and not just the teacher training functions. That is actually what is quite significant in that measure.

There is another aspect of the Bill which could escape attention. Section 3 transfers the teacher training functions of the college to the university and states that they "shall be performed by the University in accordance with such terms and conditions as the Minister, after consultation with the Governing Body, directs". This section would allow the Minister for Education of the day to ensure, for example, that the current level of Irish in the teacher training courses is maintained and developed. It will also allow the Minister to ensure that the current Irish entry requirement for the teacher training courses is maintained. In the Second Stage debate that was a fear expressed by two or three of the speakers. It was not put to a vote or anything like that because I was able to point out that if it was brought to my attention that the level of commitment was not maintained the Minister would have the right to see that it would be so done as laid down in the legislation. These things are necessary because if they are not copperfastened nobody then has the right to intervene because people point to the rule book which in this case would be the legislation.

The success and prestige which Thomond College has achieved over the years is due in so small way to the dedication and guidance given by its director, Mr. Jim Christian, and the other senior members and indeed all members of his staff. I pay them due tribute. They have built up expertise in areas such as education, sport, science, leisure and recreation, biological science and metal and wood technology. These areas have a particular potential to contribute to the excellence and relevance of Limerick University.

The word "dissolution" is used in the Bill as a legal drafting requirement and, while it indicates a degree of finality, it does not fully reflect the true situation. The functions and objectives of Thomond College will continue to be pursued but within the wider remit of the University of Limerick.

Section 6 of the Bill amends the National Council for Educational Awards Act, 1979. In effect, this means that students who commenced their courses as students of the college will have their degrees awarded by the University of Limerick and not the NCEA. The basis for the legislation, therefore, is an acknowledgement of the excellence and the endorsement of the quality and standing of the NCEA, its awards and processes. The views of the external examiners bear out this point.

The Thomond College Act, 1980 provided for a governing body consisting of chairman, director and 23 ordinary members. Apart from the director all the other members acted in an unpaid capacity. That these men and women gave freely of their time over the years to build up the success and prestige of the college cannot go without due and proper tribute being paid to them and I am pleased to record my acknowledgement of their contribution.

It has often struck me that people who serve on education boards, be it their local school, university or whatever, are contributing to the smooth, proper and efficient running of the college. They bring the expertise from whatever stratum of life by represent to bear upon the activities of the board. So often people overlook that. I pay tribute to the various boards of Thomond College and, in a wider sense, to all who serve on such boards around the country from the smallest primary school to the largest university. There is no real glory in it but there is a recognition that one is providing a valuable service and in that sense serving one's country.

This Bill, like the quality of mercy, could be said to be twice blessed in that it provides for the fusion of two excellent institutions from which both will gain. The university has always seen its mission as the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research to the highest level, particularly in areas adjuged to be of strategic benefit to the economic and social development of the country. The integration will provide an extra 600 to 700 places and will allow expansion in the areas where the university has built up a particular expertise such as science, engineering and business studies.

There has always been a significant element of the arts and humanities present in the university and the further infusion of the courses being transferred will broaden and expand this element. It is worth recalling, too, that with typical foresightedness Ireland's first arts degree in European studies commenced in Limerick in 1972. I was in Limerick on Monday at the laying of the cornerstone of the new Limerick University Foundation. A trust has been set up and a board established. There is American Irish and State investment involved in a building project of the order of £13 million.

Many tributes were paid to the excellence of the college, to its president and to the work done in it. It is a state of the art college and the entrepreneurship and enterprise of its president is quite considerable. I took the occasion to point out that, of course, one pursues excellence and relevance and this is the true basis for education. The thrust of education, while recognising its economic importance, should always be the development of the person, the development of his or her sense of confidence, the sense of at being one with oneself and with other people, the garnering of knowledge so that one is fulfilled in one's own right and to use whatever knowledge one gains to serve others. Education would have no point if that were not so.

The fusion of many of the courses, particularly those in the humanities, will be of benefit. The University of Limerick will gain from this. Given that the proposals in the Bill represent another important development in the third level education system of the country and Limerick in particular I am confident the House will welcome the Bill and, accordingly, I commend it to the House.

Like the Minister, I welcome the Bill. I agree with her that the word "dissolution" has a terminal sound but I suppose for legal reasons it had to be used. I met the Minister at the foundation the other day in Limerick. She has paid quite a number of visits to Limerick recently.

I might consider running there yet.

I hope it will be somebody else's seat she will run for. It is a very vibrant element in the mid-west. The University of Limerick, Plassey Technological Park and Thomond College have been seen as the jewel in the crown of the mid-west region. As the Minister mentioned, the foundation of Irish-American investment is a further element that is relatively new to Irish universities. It is another first. The laying of the cornerstone and the attendance of the American Ambassador shows the very strong links between the University of Limerick and America. There are also links with Japan, Europe and major universities.

I welcome the Bill. It is a rational approach to meeting numbers at third level specifically when there is such demand. We note from the Minister's address that more places will be available. We would have liked it to happen last year. Irish students were denied access to third level education because the management of Thomond may have been a little myopic in not moving faster. It would have helped enormously to have the students last year conferred with degrees. However, I will not be churlish. It is better late than never. The vast majority of the staff welcomed the reorganisation enthusiastically. They believe the merger provides opportunities for all in Plassey to contribute more fully and constructively to the advancement of the University of Limerick and to meeting the need for third level places.

The student body were particularly mature in their approach. They acted extremely rationally and played a very constructive and imaginative role in advancing initiatives in this area. We do not always get an opportunity to publicly affirm student initiative but this is one area where they were extremely constructive. I congratulate them on that. I know there are many students this year who are very happy to get University of Limerick degrees. It is an appropriate time as they celebrate Treaty 300 so it will be a significant year for all of them.

In addressing the Bill I took a brief look at the history of the two institutions. It seems only the other day but the University of Limerick was created in 1972. It achieved its status on 1 June 1989 as a University. The pursuit of excellence in teaching and research have been the prime goals of the university. The most telling factor in the University of Limerick is the tremendous emphasis on ensuring relevance to the needs of business, industry, the professions and the community. That is the hallmark of the University of Limerick. As new programmes of teaching and research are introduced particular attention is always given to areas judged to be of strategic benefit to the economic and social development of Ireland. In any university pursuing its mission, it has to recognise that there needs to be an appropriate balance between the sciences and the humanities. Inter-disciplinary programmes ovbiously would be of benefit here as would the modular credit system which I suppose some students will groan about. That system is now widely acclaimed in Europe and the United States.

Centres of academic concentration have been developed in areas of particular relevance to the mission of the university. Recruitment of faculty members and developmental policies have always been balanced between academic and applied research. Links with business, industry and the professions are fostered in various ways. Looking at the number of people who attended the ceremony on Monday one could see the fusion of business, commercial, industrial and professional links in the mid-west. That is a significant element in the University of Limerick. Research is essential to the mission of the university.

The one point seen locally is that the central philosophy of the University of Limerick will not change with the integration of Thomond College into its structure. I suppose it will change to encompass the new and important areas of pedagogics and sports science but the university sees these two areas as great opportunities for the students. The staff in the faculty of the enlarged university are looking forward to new and exciting opportunities. The range of new degree programmes being launched will enable the University of Limerick to attract a huge number of students. It will not just serve the students of the mid-west but students from the four corners of the country. A major problem which will be tackled under this in relation to Thomond College is the reduction of its unit cost. It is very important that pedagogics and sports science be afforded the same status as the other disciplines in the University of Limerick.

As regards the structure of the university, operating under the University of Limerick Act, 1989, the Minister referred already to the governing body of 25 members appointed by the Government and to the academic council which is responsible to the governing body for academic affairs. There are three colleges in the existing university, the College of Business, the College of Engineering and Science and the College of Humanities each having its own faculty board controlled by the college faculty board under the chairmanship of the dean. Obviously with the integration of Thomond College the number of colleges will be increased to four and that will be as I have said already, business, engineering and science, humanities and the college of education. That is very welcome. For any university to be fully fledged, a college of education is part and parcel of the structure.

The academic council has statutory responsibility for the development, maintenance and continuous monitoring of academic standards and the granting of academic awards. The council will be enlarged to include representation from the college of education. Thomond College of Education offers business education, English, Gaeilge, general and rural science, geography, graduate and professional studies, mathematics, metal engineering, technology education, physics, chemistry, wood and building technology. When thinking of merging them into the bigger institution, we cannot disregard the tremendous scope and cross section there of education areas. The new college will be created within the University of Limerick and called the College of Education. Into this college we will transfer the appropriate faculty of Thomond, two departments within the College of Education, one, as I mentioned already, the department of pedagogy and the other the department of sports, science and culture, very much in keeping with the spirit of the age.

There will be some minor changes, obviously, in the organisational structure. It is good to see that the College of Education will be afforded the full privileges attached to all colleges within the University of Limerick structure, with its dean, a seat on the executive board and the two heads of departments members of the management co-ordinating group. There will be no transition period following the integration of Thomond College into the University of Limerick. There will be one management structure with one governing body, one president, one academic council, one executive board, one management coordinating group.

As regards the capital funding sadly over the years the physical plant of Thomond College has not been maintained to the appropriate high level required; it has deteriorated. It was an extraordinarily unusual design but it did not stand up to weather and deteriorated. At least £1 million will be needed to restore the facilities to national standards. Obviously the high unit cost of Thomond College will be addresed. It will take a period of time to deal with that.

Thomond College was established in 1973 with a great range of expertise and resources, and, as I mentioned already, physical education, I suppose most second level schools in the country now have Thomond College physical education graduates with obviously expertise in the other subjects I mentioned, maths, geography, Gaeilge, English or whatever and, of course, recreational leisure, technology, physical sciences, agriculture, horticulture and biological science, physical education, the humanities and the arts.

I have been most involved over the years in the tremendous number of summer courses for first and second level teachers. The general public seem to think that life finishes when you get your summer holidays. I am sure the Minister would agree that we do not have those three wonderful months and a soft job because, between supervising and correcting, there was always a course appropriate to the needs of, in my subjects at least, Geography, English and various others.

This is the first year I have not been at Thomond College for a course. I would like to pay tribute to the staff. It is not just sitting back and listening, they are full, participative courses, in-service training, which is very much in demand. One certainly worked when at Thomond College. It was not even a nine to three or nine to five day, it was sometimes right through until late in the evening.

This is not a question of the big university swallowing up the smaller Thomond College. The functions that will emerge and will be integrated within the university are the educational and professional preparation of teachers, in-service training, research and consultancy in areas related to the expertise of the college, particularly in the area of the environment and the development of designated and emergent programmes and inititives in areas related to the expertise of the college. All of these reserve functions will be taken on board within the university structure.

It is interesting that the college motto is a fheabhas Thuamhumhan, which means the best in the world, idiomatically. It was chosen to signify the college's intention of striving for excellence and, with the University of Limerick, excellence is mentioned over and over in relation to the endeavours of both. It proclaims that the success of the college is inextricably linked with the success of the Thomond region. The mid-west region has been heralded many times as one of the most progressive of the country's economic regions.

You cannot ignore education when you are thinking in terms of an integrated, cultural, economic and obviously educational aspect of expertise. The college is flexible, it is adaptable, it is open to change. This is very obvious in the negotiations that have been going on over the years in relation to this integration. I know that the staff, management, students and everybody within the Thomond structure are looking forward very much to a further evolution of their functions in the context of this new institutional arrangement.

I hope the merger will harness the expertise, experience and potential in a constructive fashion. The whole issue of the humanities must be mentioned over and over again because I notice that the issue of the humanities was not highlighted too much in the working party report. I feel that this is very important. This will further be developed when we get further developments in relation to the Mary Immaculate College of Education, which is something within its integration, which is being worked on at the moment and will be another asset to the University of Limerick.

I was glad that the Minister saw fit to include section 10 in relation to culture. Over the last few months we had many requests from both sides of the House asking that the whole cultural aspect be emphasised. I am glad to see that the promotion and use of the Irish language and the preservation and development of the national culture will be given due regard in the training of teachers. That is to be welcomed. It was essential that this be included. I am glad the Minister took it on board.

With regard to section 4, in relation to additional functions, I stress the new approach to teacher training which is at the bottom of the agreement, which would extend the remit of the University of Limerick out of the narrow specialist training and that it would extend the concurrency model to comprehend the sciences, the arts, technology and business teachers. It is important when we are thinking in terms of teacher training. This is something I would like to see hammered out later.

As regards the governing body representation, I know that there is a proposal that for the next year, until the governing body go out of existence, four staff governors from Thomond College of Education will be included on the governing body of university to facilitiate a smooth transfer and also to ease the concerns of staff. If this is not acceptable, then the vacancies created on the governing body of the university, by virtue of the dissolution of Thomond College, should be filled by staff representatives.

The reason I stress staff representatives is that at the moment the positions are filled by the chairman, the director and the registrar of Thomond College. All these functions will have ceased when the Bill goes through. I emphasise that it is the staff who are important here because all the others will have disappeared off the campus and the staff will remain. The educational sector should be formally represented on the governing body of the university. The business and commercial sectors are represented very well, but an institution that is now preparing to train teachers at both primary and post-primary level should have a formal recognition of the educational constituency.

It is important that this be addressed. I ask the Minister to look into this. I would not expect the Bill to be held up. I hope that in teacher training at primary and post-primary levels there will be formal recognition of the educational constituency there.

On the issue of the Thomond College contribution to the University of Limerick again I have to emphasise the humanity element. It is obvious that a university that does not possess a strong, vibrant humanities faculty is a contradiction in terms. There is a need for a University of Limerick to build up in this area, not just exclusively for the benefit of the humanities but also for students in sciences, engineering and technology. American universities have turned right around now to saying there has to be "a civilising influence" on the graduates of engineering, technology and science. The full person, as the Minister always mentions in her addresses at educational fora, does not stop at first and second level. There is no reason why there should not be a rub-off of the humanities on both science, engineering and technology graduates at any particular time or in any particular college.

The university's mission is the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research to the highest level. It must be of strategic benefit to the economic and social development of the country. I know within the merger that educational and professional preparation of teachers, in-service education and training, the extension of the academic activities and programmes using the expertise of Thomond College of Education will, obviously, bring tremendous benefit to the university.

Teacher education is very important in relation to the OECD report. In the University of Limerick we need an extension of the remit in respect of education from the specialist areas to include all types of second level teaching. The training of specialist teachers in a university context is not just one aspect but it must be enlarged to take in everything. The basic structure is in place to train teachers to cope with all needs in post-primary education. The great strength, I suppose, in teacher education that the Thomond College brings to the university is concurrent teacher education, as opposed to consecutive, which we have, in the degree in the H.Dip. I have experience of the expertise of Thomond College in the preparation of its graduates. Management bodies have issued report after report, school principals have endorsed over and over again, the whole concept of concurrency in glowing terms. It would be a retrograde step to undermine that principle in the only institution which prepares teachers in this way. One could say that Thomond College is ahead of its time. It was a new institution and obviously it took that aspect of teacher training into consideration.

There is no way of providing good training cheaply. Poor training of teachers, as we know, is the most expensive measure of scarce resources because you have endless in-service needs, you have lack of leadership, of programme and curricular design and poor planning. I suggest that the argument for continuing the concurrency element in the University of Limerick is supported by, as I mentioned already, Mary Immaculate Training College which will be working in close contact with the university. It is not justifiable to have concurrency in one institution and not in the other.

On integration, of course, the university will be expected to maximise the utilisation of its buildings and plants by increasing student numbers which is very welcome. It is a very good day not just for education in Limerick, not just for education in the mid-west, but for education nationally. This merger of the University of Limerick and Thomond College can only be a bonus for educational development in this country. I am glad to welcome the Bill.

I am very pleased to welcome the Bill, the purpose of which is to provide for the integration of Thomond College of Education and the University of Limerick. Under the Bill, Thomond College will be dissolved and its functions in relation to the training of teachers will be transferred to the university. In order that the main purpose of the Bill may be achieved it is necessary to amend the National Institute for Higher Education (Limerick) Act, 1980 and the National Council for Educational Awards Act, 1979. These amendments are provided for in the Bill, as is the transfer of the staff, property, rights and liabilities of Thomond College to the University of Limerick. The Bill is, therefore, essentially a technical measure which is required to facilitate what could be described as a very welcome and beneficial development in the third level sector.

It is just two years since the Minister for Education brought the University of Limerick Bill and the Dublin City University Bill before this House. The establishment of these two new universities was warmly welcomed by everybody with an interest in education. The University of Limerick Bill conferred university status on a third level institution in that city, which had a short, but nonetheless, distinguished record in Irish third level education. The successful economic and social development programmes adopted by the Government in the sixties led to a recognition of the importance of technical and business subjects in order to provide the skills needed for a country and an economy which was becoming increasingly industrialised. The 1967 report of the steering committee on technical education formed the basis for the establishment of a network of regional colleges.

The National Institute for Higher Education in Limerick was established in the early 1970s. The institute soon became recognised as the leading third level teachnical institution in the country. It provided a range of excellent technical subjects for its students while its programme also contained a very significant arts and humanities element. Indeed, as the Minister mentioned, Ireland's first arts degree in European Studies commenced in Limerick in 1972. The success of NIHE Limerick was evident in the large number of applications the college received each year and in the success of its gradutes in the workplace.

For some years it was proposed that the institute should be conferred with university status and a distinguished group of international and national experts were invited to advise the Government on the matter. In 1989 the Minister for Education introduced the Bill which gave full university status to Limerick and NIHE. As I said at the outset, the initiative of the Minister was welcomed by all the interests involved in education. Since the enactment of that legislation the benefits to the university and to the city of Limerick have already been very obvious and the Bill before the House this evening represents another milestone in the history of the university and in the development of the country's third level education sector.

The other institution we are dealing with in this Bill, Thomond College, has been involved in teacher training since the National College of Physical Education opened there in 1973. At that time there was an acute shortage of physical education teachers in the country. In 1979 courses were commemced in the college in the training of metalwork, woodwork and rural science teachers. Those teachers who have been trained in Thomond College are held in the highest regard everywhere they teach. Metalwork, woodwork and rural science are subjects which are primarily available in our vocational schools. In the vast majority of such schools these subjects are taught with energy and enthusiasm by graduates of Thomond College.

Physical education has become an increasingly important part of the school curriculum and Thomond graduates in physical education have contributed in no small way to this development. However, due to demographic trends the demand for teachers has fallen and Thomond College, which was built to accommodate 1,100 students, now has a total enrolment of only 392 students. The college, of course, shares a common campus with the University of Limerick. It was against this background that the Minister met the authorities of both colleges with a view to bringing about a merger of both institutions. As the Minister pointed out, a committee was set up to consider how the facilities and expertise of both could be used to the best advantage of all concerned. The committee recommended that Thomond should be integrated with the University of Limerick.

One of the most beneficial consequences of the proposed integration will be the 700 additional university places which will become available as a result. This will mean a major improvement in access to third level education. I would like to take this opportunity to compliment the Minister on all the progress that has been made during her term of office with regard to the provision of more third level places.

As a result of her efforts there are two specific commitments in relation to third level education in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress which I would like to welcome and to refer to specifically. The first proposal is to increase the number of third level places by 8,800 during the term of the programme. The second proposal is the initiative in relation to the improvement of access to third level education for those from disadvantaged areas. I also welcome the proposal for the increased participation in third level education of mature students.

Another proposal in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress is to re-examine the higher education grant scheme with a view to having a more equitable assessment criteria for applicants. That is something that most people would support very strongly, as they would the recognition in the programme that income eligibility limits for families with more than one child attending third level courses should be increased and also that mature students should be able to qualify for higher education grants. I hope that these reforms can be brought to fruition very quickly.

The Minister has done a great deal in the area of third level education. She has taken steps to improve and reform radically the entry system and, of course, other initiatives such as the refined grading in the leaving certificate examination and the abolition of the accumulation of points in that examination; the removal of the matriculation by the National University of Ireland and the introduction of a single CAO-CAS application form. All these will simplify matters very considerably for students and they will make access to third level education easier, cheaper and more equitable. They are reforms which were very necessary and desirable. Maidir leis an tagairt speisialta sa Bhille don Ghaeilge agus don chultúr Gaelach, déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Aire as ucht an t-alt sin a bheith sa Bhille.

Cuirim fáilte chomh maith roimh an mBille agus cuirim fáilte, ar ndóigh, roimh an Aire. Is oth liom nach raibh mé anseo cúpla seachtain ó shin nuair a dúradh ina taobh gurb í an tAire Oireachais is fearr dá raibh againn, riamh agus, ar ndóigh, ní féidir liomsa dul i gcoinne na tuairime sin.

I welcome the Bill and the Minister. As I have been saying, who am I to quarrel with the assessment of her as the best Minister for Education in the history of the State? If her own supporters say that, then it must be so. It is a very good Bill and I congratulate the Minister on a very successful piece of legislation.

I am glad that Thomond is being integrated with the University of Limerick. I was looking some time ago at something I said in Limerick several years ago when I was asked by the Limerick Leader, in the course of an election campaign, what my views were in regard to the relationship of the various third level institutions in Limerick. I was gratified the other day to discover I had said that there should be one composite relationship of colleges within Limerick. That was at a time when we in UCC had a close relationship, as we still have, with the Mary Immaculate College and at a time when we had had some part in the weaning of Thomond College itself in certain departments. We never, I would claim in UCC wanted to exercise an imperial jurisdiction on a farflung colony. That was not the spirit in which we tried to help the evolution of these institutions in Limerick. I am glad about that. It makes perfect sense.

Senator Jackman has commented very comprehensively on the new arrangements in the Bill. I am happy that the welfare of the staff of Thomond University will be safeguarded in the new arrangements. Senator Jackman was very interested in the humanities dimension of the new enlarged University of Limerick. Piece by piece, if you like, the University of Limerick, when we established it here a couple of years ago, maybe was not a complete university. We all knew for example, that the original title was to be the Technological University of Limerick. With the addition of Thomond and its strong education traditions, and even though I am not supposed to talk about it, with the almost certain addition of Mary Immaculate in the near future, we will have the rounding off of the University of Limerick, hopefully, in this dimension of humanities in which there has been a certain deficiency up to now. I remember making the point when we were setting up the University of Limerick exactly two years ago that the prospectus of the National Institute of Higher Education, as it then was, the last prospectus of the NIHE before the University of Limerick was set up, relegated the humanities to the back page of the college prospectus. That reflected a certain mentality, if you like, which needs to be reformed.

I share the admiration, which was expressed in this House and in the other House, for the president of the University of Limerick, for Dr. Walsh's remarkable entrepreneurial flair and for the extraordinary initiatives he has taken. I am second to none in my admiration in that regard. Let me tell you something between ourselves.

He put the skids under the more traditional universities. He frightened them into pulling up their socks in certain respects. It is all very well for them to be condescending about Dr. Walsh, his pragmatism, his lack of a certain academic elegance. A lot of that talk is sour grapes. He has been a very good president and a very good stimulus to all the traditional universities. That having been said, I find some of his philosophies as expressed are very peculiar. He is on record as having said that really he does not think a great deal of Newman's idea of a university. It will be interesting to find out — I hope to find it out in the first million years of eternity in my conversation with Newman to alleviate the boredom of eternity — what he thinks of Dr. Walsh. It is true to say that not by chips alone does man live, or whatever the term now is for man, whether they be microchips, soggy chips or whatever. This new development is promising to flesh out the University of Limerick to what it really aspires to be in the course of time.

My main interest in the Bill I must say is section 10. It is exceptionally welcome in two respects. It deals with the Irish language and culture and promises to preserve the ethos of Thomond College, but it also inserts a new obligation and a new statutory obligation in respect of Irish on the University of Limerick which was not there before. Sin é an rud is tábhachtaí, ar shlí, maidir le alt a 10 den Bhille seo, go bhfuil dualgas nua ar Ollscoil Luimnigh nach raibh ann cheana féin — agus Ollscoil Luimnigh ar fad atá i gceist, agus ní cuid amháin di. Mar sin, ní ar ghuaillí beirte ná triúir a thuilleadh a bheidh dualgas na Gaeilge, mar is amhlaidh i láthair na huaire i gColáiste Thua-Mhumhan. Tá foireann bheag ann atá díograiseach i leith na Gaeilge ach, amach anseo, is ar an ollscoil ar fad a bheidh an dualgas sin má chuirtear an fhoráil i bhfeidhm. Sin scéal eile.

It is gratifying to note, and a great compliment to the Minister, that not alone did she put in this section 10 on language and culture but that she was prepared to clarify and strengthen it as the Bill went through the Dáil, in response to a very good discussion there. She is to be congratulated on this further amendment. It seems that the words "promotion and use" in the Bill is a very concrete advance. There is something particularly compelling and specific about imposing a statutory obligation that there should be use of the language in the university. There is a new specific in the university in the training of teachers that will have due regard for the teaching of the Irish language. That is something entirely new.

Faoi mar a dúirt an Teachta Kemmy sa Dáil cúpla seachtain ó shin, tá an-chuid déanta ag Coláiste Thua-Mhumhan cheana féin i saol Luimnigh. Tá muintir na Gaeilge sa choláiste tar éis spéis nua a chothú i measc mhuintir Luimnigh sa chultúr Gaelach. Sin rud atá déanta acu, ní amháin laistigh den choláiste, ach freisin i saol na cathrach, agus is maith an rud é sin. Mar a dúirt mé cheana féin, tá foireann an-bheag ann, ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, ach tá siad ar fheabhas, agus tá sé luaite anseo an tuairim a bhí ag ollúna áirithe i dtaobh an chaighdeáin aird atá tugtha chun críche anseo le roinnt blianta anuas. Má deirim féin arís é, tá ár gcion féin déanta ag Coláiste na hOllscoile sa mhéid sin. Tá an-chuid déanta acu i saol Luimnigh lasmuigh den choláiste ar fad agus is féidir leo san ollscoil nua dul ar aghaidh níos faide leis na scileanna agus na rudaí speisialta atá ar siúl cheana féin acu i gColáiste Thua-Mhumhan.

I would like to make a point about the role of the Thomond staff within the university and what they can do with regard to the Irish language and culture, in not simply repeating the work which is being done in the more traditional universities. Indeed, that is their intention and one of the points to be made about this is the enthusiasm of the Thomond College staff in general and the Irish department in particular to bring their skills into the University of Limerick. Their special contribution within that university will be in areas like language teaching, bilingualism, cultural studies, language planning, terminology development, and so on, areas of learning which are not necessarily covered by the existing universities. They will bring their ethos with them and develop it in the new university.

The university is lucky to receive that ready-made range of skills and they have been detailed already by the Minister. These include a wide range of activities in Irish over the years, extending outside the walls of the college to the Gaeltachtaí and so on. It is hoped that all these areas will be appreciated in the new university and developed there. In addition to all these practical areas of teaching a beginning has been made already in post-graduate studies by the small but dedicated staff in Thomond College and it is hoped that will be built upon as well.

The Minister will forgive me if I express my own personal gratification in the context of section 10 because she may well recall that when we dealt with the original Bill here two years ago, on Committee Stage I put forward an amendment which, in fact, very closely resembled section 10 as it now stands. I am not suggesting a direct cause and effect there.

We plagiarised.

I am delighted; it is the sincerest form of flattery. I must say it was not simply my amendment alone, I was supported on that occasion by Senators Ryan and O'Toole. Only a few weeks ago the Leader of the House took our point when we were looking ahead to this legislation and hoping it would have the Irish language dimension.

He reported back to me informally that that was the point the Senator made.

There are times when one feels it is worth while being here, that one is listened to and that the Seanad is not entirely a rubber stamp. This is one of those occasions. At that time the Minister felt unable to accept the amendment and suggested that the overall HEA supervision in the matter of Irish was adequate for the moment. I will not go into that. I am glad that it has now come to fruition.

Sar i bhfad beidh an Bille i bhfeidhm ach is í an cheist anois conas is féidir an chuid seo den Bhille a chur i bhfeidhm? Tá sé ceart go leor a rá, the university shall do such-and-such, ach caithfear bheith ag machnamh ar mhodhanna chun an dualgas sin a chur i gcrích: cuirim i gcás, b'fhéidir, bord na Gaeilge a chur ar bun laistigh den ollscoil faoi mar atá againn i gColáiste na hOllscoile i gCorcaigh. Tá bord na Gaeilge againn san ollscoil mar fhochoiste den choiste riartha agus tá sé de dhualgas sollúnta ar an mbord sin an Ghaeilge a chur ar aghaidh laistigh den ollscoil in an-chuid slite agus i nGaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne, agus mar sin de, agus déarfainn go bhfuil ag éirí go geal leis sin. Ní miste bord nó coiste éigin mar sin a chur ar bun. Cheana féin tá coiste Gaeilge laistigh de Choláiste Thua-Mhumhan, agus, mar sin, molaim go leanfaí leis an socrú sin laistigh den Ollscoil.

We must also wonder how the section on the Irish language and culture should be applied in terms of entry requirements. The least, I suggest, that should be expected here is that Irish should be retained as a mandatory entry requirement for trainee teachers because for one thing the ceard-teastas is involved here. As I said already, if the achievements of Thomond College are to be preserved and expanded it is essential that Irish should be retained as an entry requirement for teacher training. It is not too unreasonable also to suggest — and here we are moving away from the Thomond College element into the university as a whole — that if, in future, in any case where the university will establish a second language requirement for entry to university courses Irish should be recognised to fulfil such a requirement. That is the very least we should expect if we are not to be ashamed altogether. If there is to be a second language requirement, the Irish language should be recognised in this way.

There should be new degree courses considered and the post-graduate section developed. This is all something for the staff to consider. We might envisage new degree courses such as BA in bilingual communications, BA in Irish studies, evening BA and so on, so that this will also be a way of fulfiling and giving life to section 10 of the Bill. As the Minister knows, status has a great deal to do with personal advancement, personal rank and title and so on. Therefore, it might also be considered that a professorship should be established in the course of time to give academic leadership in the post-graduate area in particular. In other words, Irish should have the same status and ranking in the university as any other major subject. The university should have the same relationship with bodies like the national Bord na Gaeilge and the HEA and the Department where Irish activities are concerned, and should have parity with other universities in support of the Irish language.

Finally, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a more general point in all this, that is the general position of Irish in the universities. I was looking quite recently again at Eoin MacNeill's famous tract "Irish in the National University of Ireland — a plea for Irish Education", which, of course, was a main argument in the adoption of Irish as a compulsory subject for matriculation in NUI. Even after the passage of all these years, and in entirely changed circumstances, it is a very powerfully argued and a very compelling piece of polemic. Who can take issue with his central statement that a distinctive national culture should be both inwardly fostered and outwardly displayed by the new national university? That might well be taken as a headline for the University of Limerick and, indeed, for the Dublin City University as well, and why not for Trinity College? What law of inferiority complex is there in this country that somehow one must never think of Trinity as having any obligations in respect of our national language and culture? Why should Trinity be immune from what should be an honour and responsibility? MacNeill's statement that the national university should both inwardly foster and outwardly display distinctive national culture would be a good headline for the new universities to follow.

I do not know if the Minister had a chance yesterday to read a very interesting, brief article in The Irish Times by the Registrar of University College, Cork, Professor Aidan Moran, a man who is very far from being a fanatic; he is not even a Gaelgeoir and yet it seems to him, as an educationalist, that we are at a very crucial time in respect of the status of Irish in our third level institutions. He feels that the matric obligation of Irish in the NUI is one of the things that is keeping Irish in the schools and he believes that if Irish disappeared altogether as a matriculation requirement for the NUI and for the new universities into which the NUI will break up there will be a knock-on effect throughout the whole educational system.

Already in many schools Irish has now only a token presence and the students are no longer considering the NUI as long as that requirement is there. Up to now, it has to be said, the University of Limerick and the Dublin City University, in Professor Moran's words have offered very little support in their interest requirements to specifically Irish cultural values. This is why I particularly welcome section 10 of this Bill. In fact, Professor Moran's statement is not too exaggerated when he says that within a very short number of years, if Irish loses its place in the educational system, summer school students coming in from the United States and elsewhere who will be given a course in Irish studies, such as we have had in UCC for the last decade or so, will know more about the culture of the country than many of our own students. If they do not get a specifically Irish approach to the Irish language other areas of the curriculum offers them very little. History is now very much a minority subject.

That was the thrust of it.

Paradoxically, Professor Moran claims that it will only be from English as a school subject that they will get any acquaintance with Irish culture.

Through poetry and literature.

His main point is right, that it is time for the State at this point to clarify and define its policy as regards the Irish language and culture and section 10 in this Bill could be the beginning of this. It now unapologetically imposes the Irish culture requirement on the University of Limerick. It is anomalous that Dublin City University does not have to have regard to the Irish dimension.

Neither do the regional colleges.

I am talking about the fact that these universities were set up pari passu. Even though, as I recall on that occasion, there was a much greater Irish language content in the NIHE Dublin prospectus at that time than in Limerick, the anomaly is there as regards the Dublin City University. As I have said already in relation to Trinity College — now coming up to its 400th anniversary — it is not too short a period of time for it to become absorbed into the nation in this way and to have regard to its Irish language obligations. I hope that the potential and the logic of this section will give the Government pause, food for thought and will, perhaps, result in a more general policy. Meanwhile I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill. We should all promise it our help as well as congratulating the Minister.

Ba mhaith liomsa ar dtús mo bhuíochas a ghabháil agus comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis an Aire Oideachais as ucht an Bille seo a thabhairt os ár gcomhair anocht.

I want to remind Senator Murphy that the truth will out in relation to the position of the Minister and the fact that she is one of the best Ministers for Education that we have had this century.


I welcome this progressive legislation and I compliment the Minister on bringing it forward. I welcome the amalgamation of Thomond College with the new University of Limerick and the importance she attaches to the fact that the expertise that has been professionally built up over the years by Thomond in its various fields will be retained and developed in the new merged college. I also welcome the fact that an extra 600 to 700 places will be available in the expansion of expertise in the areas of science, engineering and business studies. I am delighted that the Minister clarified the position in relation to the word "dissolved", the legal connotations in relation to that and the fact that she would prefer to see the words "amalgamation" or "merger" being used, but for legal purposes that will not be the case. Everyone understands exactly what is meant by the definition. As a teacher of business studies in relation to business organisation I always explained the difference between mergers and amalgamations as opposed to take-overs. Mergers and amalgamations are a type of a friendly understanding and coming together of interests, whereas a take-over is a type of oppression and there can be opposition to it in relation to any developments. I am glad the Minister sees this as a friendly amalgamation and merger.

The Minister rightly paid tribute to the board of Thomond over the years and the service they have given to all the teachers who graduated from that college. I am privileged, as a second level teacher, to have served with graduates of Thomond College over the years. The professionalism, dedication and service those people have shown down through the years both in terms of their own subject and in relation to what Senator Murphy talked about, in regard to the Irish cultural heritage, has been second to none. I am privileged to have known a number of the staff of Thomond College. In fact, in 1973 members of the present staff of Thomond were involved in the first remedial education programme that was set up. I was one of the lucky people who did that remedial course and was amazed to see at first hand the type of professionalism and dedication people gave to the teaching arena. I am glad the Minister paid tribute to both the board and the staff and this amalgamation can do nothing but good for the new University of Limerick.

Ba mhaith liom ag an bpointe seo mo bhuíochas a ghabháil agus comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis an Aire maidir le alt a 10, mar a luaigh an Seanadóir Murphy, i dtaobh áit na teanga, agus go bhfuil bunús dlí leis sa Bhille seo. Bhí roinnt faitís ar dhaoine a bhfuil suim acu sa Ghaeilge agus i gcultúr na tíre go ndearnadh dearmad ar an teanga agus ar chultúr na tíre, cultúr a bhí mar chuid thábhachtach de shaothar Choláiste Thua-Mhumhan le blianta anuas. Sílim go raibh faitíos ar dhaoine, b'fhéidir, nuair a thiocfadh an amalgamation sin go ndéanfaí dearmad den teanga in Ollscoil Luimnigh féin. Tá an-áthas ormsa go bhfuil an t-alt sin curtha isteach ag an Aire, mar, ó thaobh an teanga a choimeád, ní hiad na múinteoirí a bheidh ag teacht amach amháin a bheidh i gceist ach an ollscoil ar fad. Tá sé de dhualgas ar gach éinne againn, go mórmhór sinne mar mhúinteoirí agus mar dhaoine a bhfuil suim againn sa teanga, í a chur chun cinn aon uair is féidir linn, rud atá iontach tábhachtach.

Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Murphy, is rud amháin alt a 10 a chur isteach sa Bhille ach is rud eile é an obair a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí Gaeilge. Tá mise i mo bhall den ghrúpa stiúrtha a bhunaigh an tAire Comhshaoil roinnt blianta ó shin chun úsáid na Gaeilge a spreagadh go deonach, ar fud an chórais rialtais áitiúil, agus is é an tOllamh Máirtín Ó Murchú, atá ina Stiúrthóir ar Scoil an Léinn Cheiltigh, cathaoirleach an choiste sin. Bhí sé de phribhléid agam tamall ó shin bheith in éineacht leis an Aire agus cuairt á tabhairt againn ar Scoil an Léinn Cheiltigh agus lucht na scoile sin, agus iad ag taispeáint dúinn an méid atá déanta acu le 50 bliain anuas agus an méid atá le déanamh fós. Bhí a bhean chéile ann freisin, Helen Ó Murchú, atá mar iarchathaoirleach ar Bhord na Gaeilge.

Agus bhí an Seanadóir agus mise sna páipéir.

Tá sin ceart, agus bhí sé go hiontach ar fad. Tá cóip den pháipéar curtha in airde ar an mballa sa bhaile agam. Ach, i dtaobh an méid a bhí le rá ag an Seanadóir Murphy, sílim go bhfuil smaoineamh an-mhaith aige agus beimidne an-sásta bualadh le lucht bainistíochta Ollscoil Luimnigh chun aon chabhair is féidir linn a thabhairt dóibh chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn ar fud na hollscoile go léir. Is rud an-tábhachtach é sin maidir leis an Ghaeilge a choimeád beo. Mar sin, ba mhaith liom arís, m'fhíorbhuíochas a ghabháil leis an Aire as ucht alt a 10 a chur isteach.

The tradition and history of Thomond and its excellent record in matters relating to the Irish language and culture can do nothing but enhance the whole status of the new university. The Minister has recognised that. The Irish language will not be seen as a specific element in just one corner of the campus of the university but she has ensured by inserting section 10, that the whole ethos and development of the Irish language will become part of the university. That is extremely important. We must ensure that this important legislation in relation to the Irish language becomes a reality and that the ethos that is Thomond will permeate throughout the new University of Limerick. We must also ensure that our heritage, culture and our language that we are so proud of will be given high priority in all sectors of the campus of the new university.

We in the mid-west region are extremely proud of the new University of Limerick. Great tributes have been paid to Dr. Walsh and all the staff there in the development of the university and the excellence that is attached to it. I see the amalgamation as being, in economic parlance, a horizontal integration not a vertical intergration. In time to come the Minister will be seen as being an enlightened Minister for Education and this legislation will be seen as extremely progressive and will enhance the third level area of our nation. I welcome the Bill and I give it my 100 per cent support.

I, too, welcome the Bill and I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the Minister. In fact, I had the privilege of being in this House with the Minister at the beginning of her national political career.

That is correct.

This legislation represents a commonsense and rational approach to meeting the needs of third level education in the south and mid-west regions. In merging those two third level institutions one is moving towards an even stronger, more vibrant and dynamic third level sector in that entire region. Limerick, due to its location will also serve as a university to other parts of the country. It will not just serve the mid-west or the south or any other specific area.

There is the added dimension that in the new merged institution more third level places will be available. This, in itself, is extremely welcome. I do not want to be critical of the new development but it is unfortunate that this did not take place last year when more students could have been accommodated and enjoy third level education. However, we welcome the new development and we are very proud of it. I would like to make the point that Limerick campaigned long and hard for establishment of a university in the city or its environs. It is appropriate that Limerick, being the third largest city, would have a university. One is glad to see the various disciplines that can be studied and followed by students in the new university. It would be my wish that, as time progresses, further disciplines could be included in the curriculum.

Reference was made earlier to Dr. Ed Walsh. I would like to be associated with the words of praise and support for him, a man of stature, calibre and entrepreneurship. The students in Limerick University are totally behind this initiative and they have played a very constructive and imaginative role in this venture. These young people are to be congratulated, together with others, in this regard. All of us realise that two major institutions are coming together and I, in common with other speakers, will avoid using the word "dissolution".

The University of Limerick, formerly known as the NIHE, and Thomond College of Education were established by Acts of these Houses in 1980. These Acts are almost the same. Both institutions deserve to be congratulated for the manner in which they discharged their respective roles over the years. They have proved their worth and significance in the development of third level education in the country generally but in the south-west and mid-west in particular. The effect of this development will be felt in Limerick city and the adjacent area. I live within a mile of the new university and I am very proud of that development.

The 1980 Act gave a statutory base to Thomond College but the college was established in 1973. Thomond College has developed a range of expertise and resources in the areas of education, particularly physical education, recreation and leisure, technology and physical science, agricultural and horticultural science, biographical science, business administration, business education, the humanities, arts and a number of other vital areas. The functions of Thomond College were given legal effect with the passing of the Thomond College of Education Act, 1980. That Act allocated certain functions to the college.

One can say that Thomond College over the years has endeavoured to carry out these responsibilities and functions by providing undergraduate and post-graduate diploma and degree programmes, research and consultancy work. The paramount importance of the college, however, and its area of greatest distinction has been in the fulfilment of its role of providing teacher education. Over the years since its inception, it has trained teachers in various disciplines to the highest possible standard. The college has also developed in other ways, among which is the optimum utilisation of the knowledge basis required to service the teacher education function in a national and international context and the wider application of this as market-place demands increase. This led to the development of courses outside teacher education.

It is important that all aspects of the work carried out in Thomond College should now be transferred intact to the new institutional development. It is particularly important that the new institutional arrangement caters for the education and professional preparation of teachers, in-service education and training, research and consultancy in areas related to the expertise of the college, development of designated and emerging programmes and initiatives in areas related to the expertise of the college.

All due credit must go to the working party comprised of Thomond College of Education, University of Limerick and the Higher Education Authority which provided the agreed framework for this legislation. The working party identified the legislative requirement of repealing the Thomond College of Education Limerick Act, 1980 and the various reorganisational and management and academic structures which will be necessary to enable the integration to go ahead. In identifying the university's mission, which is the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research to the highest level, particularly in areas adjudged to be of strategic benefit to the economic and social development of Ireland, the working group have also take cognisance of the guiding inspiration which was already referred to, the college motto of Thomond, "ar fheabhas Thua-Mhumhan", meaning the best in the world. This is something that cannot be overstated. That motto was chosen by Thomond College. Its track record justifies it. The college has interpreted its ideal by implementing its functions in a way that has exploited the virtues of its size, flexibility and openness to change. Thomond College looks forward to the expansion and further invigoration of its role in the new university structure.

The arrival of Thomond College at the University of Limerick Plassey campus will mean that new institutional arrangements will have to be put in place. This means that a fourth college will now be added to the university. The working group recommended that the academic council of the university should be enlarged to allow the former college to have adequate and proportionate representation on the council. They emphasised the need to ensure that the existing student body at Thomond College of Education be guaranteed that when they complete their course of studies they will receive the level of award to which their current recognised programme entitles them.

The age old origins of universities and their ties with the humanities have given universities their special aura, ethos and distinctive qualities over the centuries. I compliment the Minister for taking on board proposals that were put forward in the other House with regard to section 10 which preserves what was described earlier as the Irish ethos.

With regard to the composition of the governing body, it is vitally important particularly in the early days of rationalisation, amalgamation and assimilation that maximum participation in the governing body by the new constitutent college be provided for. I propose that until the governing body goes out of existence next year members of the staff of Thomond College form part of that body.

The establishment of the regional technical colleges, the growth of the Dublin Institute of Technology colleges and the emergence of the former NIHEs at Limerick and Glasnevin were all part of the massive expansion of the system. This has given rise to a much better range of choice for the student emerging from second level and has brought about a very welcome element of competition among third level institutions themselves. There is an acute consciousness of excellence and high standards being the final determinant. The new colleges have energised the whole system. They have brought a new atmosphere of excitement and innovation to third level. They have been good for the traditional third level institutions in that everybody has had to respond to the demands, competition and challenges of the era.

I pay tribute to the leading role of the University of Limerick in this. I also pay tribute to the Minister for Education for her part in putting this legislation together. I look forward to further disciplines and areas of study being made available to students not alone in Limerick but in the whole catchment area that university serves.

Ní thógfaidh mé i bhfad mar tá a fhios agam go bhfuil brú ar an am agus níorbh fhiú moill mhór a chur ar phíosa reachtaíochta atá réasúnta simplí. I compliment the Minister on the elegant presentation of her script.

Does the Senator like my new presentation?

The quality of desk top publishing has obviously landed well and firmly inside in the office of the Minister.

I will tell the person concerned. He will be pleased.

It was extremely well presented. I was also taken by Senator Murphy's reference to the president of the University of Limerick's disapproval or disagreement of Newman's idea of a university. I could not help thinking, in the Limerick context, that I was not sure which Newman he was talking about. There is another Newman in Limerick with a very different idea of a university.

I am glad we are dealing with this Bill. The idea of a technological university is a bit shaky, not because there is anything wrong with third level technological education — it is the sector in which I have built whatever sort of an academic career I have — but because it is important to keep technology in perspective. It is a servant of humanity, not a master. It is something we use to make the quality of life better and not something that takes over our lives. That is true of work, business, enterprise and education. We must remember that the ultimate objective is a better quality of life for people, not more goods and services per se but more goods and services that give people a better quality of life. That necessitates the perpetual maintenance of humanity at the centre of any system of education. My sector of education is somewhat deficient in that. Because of a somewhat philosophically narrow view of the role of the RTCs in the past, the need for the underlying breadth of education is somewhat less than visible, in the range of subjects available in the RTCs and the virtual non-development of any area of the humanities, with occasional exceptions.

Changes in technology come out of a way of thinking which the humanities can often stimulate. For instance, many of our technological universities have not been particularly good at looking at the increasing pressures on the environmental security of this planet. Most of the feed-out about the environment has come from outside the mainstream of academe and they respond to other people rather than create the thinking themselves. The whole area of science and technology very often has to catch up with public opinion in the area of the environment. This suggests that where people are training to be at the forefront of technology, there must be a requirement that they can think laterally and not just think in terms of their discipline and that they are stimulated by ideas from outside their specialisation and do not become ghettoised. Ghettos are not always grim. You can be ghettoised in a palace as much as in a slum. You can be ghettoised in technological education as much as anywhere else.

I am glad, therefore, that the injection of new people through the incorporation of the Mary Immaculate College, will provide different perspectives, values and ideas. It would be good because the University of Limerick seems to have taken on the image of being a centre of somewhat eccentric ideas. I am fascinated that a senior official believes the Government cannot create jobs while all the jobs in the same university are created by the Government and paid for by the taxpayer. I am fascinated by the suggestion that taxation in this country is causing emigration to Germany where taxation is just as high, by the suggestion that our country has been ruined by a succession of pink Governments, all of which suggestions have emanated from senior officials of that university and, indeed, the suggestion that we should join NATO in order that we should have an arms industry. I hope a broader vision of society and the world will result in some dilution of the expression of those ideas.

Cuirim fáilte roimh alt a 10 den Bhille seo faoi mhúineadh na Gaeilge agus faoi áit na Gaeilge sa chóras oideachais. Tá, mar a dúirt mo chara, an Seanadóir Murphy, deacrachtaí againn anois os rud é nach bhfuil an dualgas céanna ar an DCU, agus níl dualgas ar bith ar na coláistí réigiúnacha. Ba chóir dúinn leathnú amach agus smaointe nua a chaitheamh timpeall faoi cheist na Gaeilge mar níl aon easpa dea-thola ann.

In the question of the Irish language, we should not be intimidated by people. riding certain hobby-horses. There was, for instance, an Irish Times opinion poll about parents' views on second level education and The Irish Times misrepresented its own opinion poll. They said that the opinion poll showed the majority of parents in favour of reducing the Irish content in second level education. It did not. It showed that the single greatest group, which was 45 per cent, wanted a reduction. The other two groups, about 30 per cent, wanted it to remain the same and 25 per cent wanted it increased. Twenty five per cent and 30 per cent is 55 per cent. That represents the majority of parents who want either the Irish language content of second level education to remain the same or to be increased. Therefore, as regards the langauge, let us not be shanghaied in a way that is neither consistent with public opinion nor in the country's interest.

Arís cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo agus roimh an Aire. Ní fheadar an bhfuil sí chomh hiontach agus a deir daoine ar an taobh eile. Ach tá jab maith déanta aici agus tá sí sásta glacadh le tuairimí agus fealsúnachtaí nua agus leanúint ar aghaidh le forbairt an oideachais.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille tábhachtach seo, agus, go mórmhór, roimh an soláthar a rinne an tAire maidir le ceist na Gaeilge. Mar atá ráite cheana, ba mhaith liom foráil mar seo a fheiceáil i chuile Bhille a bhaineann le cúrsaí ollscoile agus chuile ollscoil ar fud na tíre. Tá go leor a d'fhéadfaí a rá faoin Ghaeilge i gcúrsaí oideachais agus an Ghaeilge maidir leis an máithreánach ach creidim go bhfuil an t-am imithe go gcuirfidh tú an Ghaeilge ar aghaidh trí rialacha. Cuirfidh tú an Ghaeilge ar aghaidh trín Ghaeilge a mhúineadh agus trí sholáthar ceart a dhéanamh i chuile institiúid oideachais don Ghaeilge go deonach sna hinstitiúidí sin.

Is cuimhneach liomsa siar sna seascaidí caint a bheith ann faoi bhunú Ollscoil Luimnigh agus ag an am sin ceapadh nach bhféadfaí a leithéid a dhéanamh. Tá sé ann anois. Tá dhá institiúid curtha le chéile agus tá an-chreidiúint ag dul don Aire as an mBille seo a chur faoi bhráid an Tí.

I thank Senators who spoke and committed themselves to the centre — Senators Jackman, Mullooly, Murphy, McKenna, Hourigan, Ryan and Ó Cuív. There were seven remarkable contributions. I do not know if this is a record but each contributor welcomed the Bill and welcomed me. I am sure Senators are very hospitable anyway. The hospitability usually wears away after about two lines but on this occasion it did not. The Bill received a very positive welcome and I thank Senators for that. In return I will pay a compliment to some Senators. I was here two years ago for the other Bill. It was in the middle of a general election and I came up from Athlone. The Bill had passed through the Dáil and we wanted it to pass through the Seanad because the students were to receive their degrees from the new universities. Various Senators, particularly Senator Murphy and others, brought forward an amendment rather on the lines of what we have now arrived at in section 10, which has received universal approval. At the time I was in a bit of a state because I would have liked to have accepted it but to do so would have meant that the Bill would have had to go back to the Dáil. It would have been too late for what we wanted. Subsequent events, as we all know, meant that it was quite a long time before the Dáil was formed.

Senator Murphy said that he felt that on some occasions at least the House is listened to. That was certainly one occasion. He remarked upon the similarity of the measure we have introduced. I replied, jocosely, but not really, that we had plagiarised what he had said. The Leader of the House has reported to me that the House had expressed the sentiment that the Bill would contain a very positive section in relation to the Irish language. So in a very positive way the wishes of this House have been enshrined in the Bill. It was introduced and we were glad to have it amended in the Dáil.

The general welcome for the Bill is gratifying. Senator Jackman has a very comprehensive knowledge of the courses obtaining in each college and how the best of them could be retained. She praised the students and pointed out the need for a capital injection to be made. We will attend to that.

Senator Mullooly gave us an interesting, historical narrative on the background to the colleges. We welcomed the insertion of the section dealing with the Irish language. Senator Murphy recalled what he said several years ago in Limerick, that there should be one college and that the two could form one. He praised the president, Ed Walsh and added a caveat about technology, which was later repeated by Senator Ryan, that we should not be overcome by the wonders of technology. He quoted the words of Eoin MacNeill that Irish and Irish language studies should be inwardly fostered and outwardly displayed.

Senator McKenna welcomed the Bill. He was delighted with section 10 and spoke very strongly, as Gaeilge. He asked that the ethos of Thomond be extended into the college. Senator Hourigan gave an interesting account of the long campaign for a university in Limerick. Full credit to the working party. They will be very pleased. They worked very diligently in a short period of time. I gave a commitment in the Dáil that the Minister of the day would have regard to the nominees of what had been Thomond College. He would like to see further areas of study developed in the various third level institutions. Senator Ryan said technology should be kept in perspective and that it is the quality of life rather than the increasing consumer services or goods which should always be kept to the fore. I could not have put it better myself. He welcomed the Bill and particularly section 10. He spoke about the need for other colleges to look at this development. Senator Ó Cuív gave a very warm welcome to the Bill and is delighted with section 10.

The welcome the Bill received in the Dáil was genuine but I am constantly refreshed by the breadth of experience and the level of understanding Senators have of Bills such as this when they come to this House. It was very obvious that Members had studied the Bill. I stayed in the House for the two hours to note all that was said. One thing which was said struck me. It was in relation to an article in The Irish Times yesterday by Professor Moran of UCC with regard to where are we going with the Irish language and teaching in schools. His comments may have been stark perhaps but he had several very timely shots across our bows. Senator Murphy said that perhaps this section was a very demanding and challenging way in which the Irish language and culture is now being enshrined in this legislation. It is all very well to have grand language but this is the intent and purpose of this Bill. It can serve as a pointer to the thinking of both Houses of the Oireachtas across party lines on this matter. I would like that to be the guiding light.

I would like to thank Thomond College, the staff and the governing bodies concerned. They bring with them much benefit to their new college. I would not like them to think they are going into an institution that will gobble them. I see them as bringing with them great attributes, an ethos, experience and a wider view of many things which will be of great benefit to the admirable institution.

I want to pay a tribute to Ed Walsh for the way he runs the college, the way he gathers the nicest people around and gets things moving. There is a very good future ahead of this University of Limerick in its new status. It is interesting as Limerick is celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Limerick; Senator Jackman referred to this. Senator Fallon and I come from a town which is equally famed: I refer to 1691. They went to Limerick after various stops en route, at Aughrim and elsewhere. It is an interesting year for Senator Jackman's city and our town, and is a year we are celebrating in our various ways. We salute Limerick and wish it well, particularly the University of Limerick in its new status.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 19 June 1991.

When is it proposed to sit again?

It is proposed to sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.