Considering Fine Gael’s education policy

Today this blog carries an interview with Brian Hayes TD, Fine Gael spokesperson on Education and Science. This is the first of a series of interviews with key figures in education and public life. The purpose of this series is to set out a range of views and principles held by key public figures, and to allow these to stimulate some debate.

The interview with Brian Hayes is interesting, not least because he was very forthcoming with his views. If we were to look ahead to get a sense of what a Fine Gael-led government might do in office, we get a picture of a strongly driven reform agenda that would link university programmes more directly with the labour market, that would support university autonomy in return for more reporting and greater accountability, that would continue a push towards rationalisation of education provision, and that would look with some scepticism at research expenditure.

For those of us working in higher education, there are things here to agree with, things to consider, and things to disagree with. What I find heartening in his statements is the call for more dialogue with the sector and for its inclusion in formal policy debates.

At a more immediately practical level, his proposal that the universities and institutes should be asked to present their views on strategic developments in the light of the ‘An Bord Snip Nua’ report to a session of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Science is very helpful, and I hope that this will be adopted by the Committee. A forum for dialogue and thoughtful analysis would, at this very tricky point, be helpful.

Finally – and outside the context of higher education – his call for action in relation to pre-school education is entirely laudable, and I hope that there might be some movement in relation to this. The recession has a very significant capacity to push people back into economic and social disadvantage; pre-school education targeted at such groups gives us a much greater chance to avoid another serious growth in structural poverty and social disaffection. Doing something here is worth the money.

Explore posts in the same categories: blogging, education, higher education, politics

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One Comment on “Considering Fine Gael’s education policy”

  1. Vincent Says:

    yes, it might be a good thing that you and the others have your day before the committees. But it should not be confined to the sector.

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