'Dons' deserve pension top-up
Madam -- In his article entitled 'Hundreds of varsity dons get pension top-ups', Daniel McConnell seems to wilfully misunderstand the reason for the years added to the pensions of university academics. Because an academic, a 'don' to use Mr McConnell's antique term, is teaching university students he or she must have an advanced degree. This takes years to acquire. And on top of a PhD, many subjects also require further years of training at a post-PhD level. In addition to all this there may be commercial (or what the Sunday Independent calls 'real world') experience demanded. As Mr Howlin's spokeswoman says in the article: "Added years are granted where it is clear that [they] are fully justified by the requirement to have significant prior periods of education." Mr McConnell seems to be outraged by the fact that a person who graduates from university with a basic degree isn't qualified to teach there as soon as the degree is hung on the wall.
I'm not an academic, still less a 'don', but I am proud that in an incredibly competitive world a diploma from an Irish university still means something. We are a very small country, and yet in some of the most difficult fields of study our university graduates are the equal of any. They owe this to the 'dons' that Mr McConnell has chosen to attack. Surely there are more worthy targets for his outrage.
Carrigaline, Co Cork
*John M Leonard of the Corbally branch of Fine Gael in Limerick has asked us to point out that he is not the John Leonard, Limerick, whose letter appeared in last week's issue.