Tuesday 23 May 2017

Coughlan says no to 'elitism' by ruling out return of fees

Fergus Black

EDUCATION Minister Mary Coughlan yesterday again ruled out a return of colleges fees and insisted there was no room for "elitism" in third-level education.

The minister said she took on board the latest world university rankings, which showed that Ireland's reputation for excellence in the arts and humanities had taken a hit, with Trinity College and UCD both blaming cuts in funding for their overall drop in the league table.

But the minister said caution was needed about many of the examinations of league tables and said there were a number of positives from the latest ranking -- UCC had moved into the top 50 and Irish universities were in the top 100.

"Our policy has always been not to have elitism in third-level education but that we have the highest standards within all of the universities and institutes of technology," she said.

This was unlike other parts of the world where huge investment of resources was put into elite colleges.

"I do appreciate that there will be funding difficulties within all of education, including the university sector, and there's a growing and increased emphasis on going to third- and fourth-level education," Ms Coughlan added.

On the question of a return of college fees, the minister reiterated that as the Programme for Government had already indicated, "we will not introduce fees within the lifetime of this Government".

She added she would be bringing a strategy for the next 20 years on the third-level sector to Cabinet "quite soon".

Irish Independent

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