Pretending it’s all easy

Hot on the heels of my recent post on international student recruitment, today’s edition of the Irish Examiner newspaper has a letter to the editor from Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly (Ireland South) in which he suggests that all of our problems with university funding could be resolved, and the need for tuition fees overcome, if Irish universities were to recruit ‘larger numbers of students who wish to travel to Ireland to complete their higher level education’. This is exactly the kind of statement politicians sometimes make when they really don’t understand higher education at all. The idea that we should invite international students to take the place of the Irish exchequer, and indeed of Irish students themselves, and subsidise our sector is mind-numbingly naive.

In the end politicians need to stop wishing for a fairytale scenario (getting philanthropists to pick up the tab is another favourite) in which there is an easy solution to higher education funding that does not require substantial new taxpayer investment or tuition fees. One or the other of these two steps must be taken. There is no other option. Doing neither means serious decline for Ireland as a country.

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7 Comments on “Pretending it’s all easy”

  1. Al Says:

    Someone should compose league tables for politicans statements on education.
    Good but foolish intentions, points scoring, kicking while down, etc,etc

    Saying that, did he get this idea all by himself or is there someone whispering in his ear from within the academia?

    Will it be a ryanair flight to a ryanair university…

  2. Vincent Says:

    I think you may well be giving that political party more vim and thunder with that re-naming you’re doing that is deserved.

  3. Private Hi Says:

    Funding is the problem and this myopic and cursory commentary is opportunistic to say the least. Did he bang the press release off before thinking or what?

    On funding – and since the ‘public’ universities are also somewhat ‘private’ I wonder when someone (bar me) would dare suggest going fully private and fo-profit or partially ‘private’? Kelly’s argument here is international students = money when there is more to it than that……

  4. Jilly Says:

    Oh surprise, surprise, he’s another ‘former teacher’. What IS it with former teachers/lecturers who become politicians and then display a chronic lack of understanding not just of sectoral and structural issues, but also of the very basic underlying principles of education?

    I wonder if it’s because they weren’t very good teachers themselves, and that’s why they left education?

  5. John Says:

    I seem to remember reading about the sustainability of the Sino Cash Cow model in education… maybe it was mentioned in the Browne Report?

    Demographic change in China combined with rising quality of home institutions is likely to diminish the flow of overseas students.

    They’ve probably also realised that many English universities used them to plug budget deficits, and left them royally short-changed in terms of quality.


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