Saturday 24 March 2018

Emer O'Kelly: Minister, universities are for the intellectual elite

The HEA's proposed academic conditions read like a horror list of inadequacy, writes Emer O'Kelly

ANYBODY interested in the progress and advancement of third- level education and beyond is familiar with John Henry Newman's late 19th Century treatise The Idea of a University. That, of course, is a given.

I joke: like hell it's a given. Nowadays first-year humanities students in Irish universities have probably never heard of Newman. It's not so long since every student of baby theology, philosophy or English literature would have been familiar with his orotund language and semi-mysticism because the treatise was a basic text in English-speaking universities here and abroad for first-year students. It had something to do with the fact that a university was somewhere you continued your education, rather than cramming for a job qualification.

Twenty-five years ago, I remember a mother who doted on her son (well, she's Irish) saying when he qualified for entry to Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to study some aspect of computer science (finishing near the top of his year), "Well, he certainly wasn't university material."

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