Third level sector has difficult choices to make – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien

Speaking after this week’s establishment of a National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at third level, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, TD, said Irish Universities face serious challenges in the months and years ahead.

Deputy O’Brien, who on Thursday attended a protest organised by University Students Ireland (USI) outside the Marlborough Street headquarters of the Department of Education and Skills said:

“I agree with Education Minister Ruairi Quinn that the country’s third level institutions must be expected to implement difficult decisions that will otherwise be forced upon them.

“There needs to be greater collaboration between the colleges in order to end the doubling-up of courses and ensure greater productivity.

“Sinn Féin will work with the minister to enhance our university system, ensure the development and consolidation of the Institute of Technology sector and the establishment of regional clusters between universities.

“We will also look carefully at proposals to provide stronger institutes of technology and future technological universities as well as the overall development of increased sustainability and capacity in the higher education system.

“There must not however, be any move to impose additional third level fees and cuts in student’s allowances. Instead, we need to work towards achieving a more efficient third level system where the focus is on the implementation of best practices in teaching and learning.

“This means addressing the excessive wages scales and allowances that are paid to some senior academics so that there can remain universal access to higher education.”

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