Monday 20 November 2017

Time for reform in education

THE chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, Tom Boland, has issued another wake-up call to politicians and college chiefs. In the past, Mr Boland's frank views have challenged the complacency of those who would pay glib lip-service to a competitive "knowledge economy" some time in the future, but who react defensively to any suggestion of change. Yesterday he was accused by the secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers of "letting the cat out of the bag" by suggesting that academic staff might be asked to redeploy in the course of reform of the country's third level education system.

Change in custom and practice, redeployment, flexibility . . . these are concepts alien to the public sector creed, but each of our third-level colleges will have to adapt, or face stagnation and perhaps extinction.

We have 40 state-funded higher education institutions in a country with a population not much bigger than that of the Birmingham metropolitan area. The reform strategy outlined by Tom Boland includes a reduction in the number of those colleges, the merging of colleges and courses, collaboration between partner institutions, and more flexible teaching and learning techniques.

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