Party time: the Labour Party

Here is the final manifesto I shall be looking at: the Labour Party. In the education section of the document, the party puts forward a number of reasonable proposals to do with curriculum reform in schools, equity and fairness, and combatting illiteracy. The higher education element in all of this is summed up as follows:

‘Labour supports a vibrant, pluralist third level sector that offers both high quality research and high quality undergraduate teaching.’

For the moment this has not been taken beyond the rather vague rhetoric of that quotation. But there are some specifics, most notably the party’s desire to initiate a reform of the ‘academic contract’. On tuition fees the manifesto repeats the Labour commitment not to reintroduce them, while also suggesting that more radical reform is needed. This is part of a more general trend right now that appears to want to ‘compensate’ for less generous funding with higher levels of bureaucracy and control. Searching around for something to suggest that might bring in money, the manifesto echoes the Fine Gael commitment to seek more international students. Neither party seems to be particularly aware of the already existing level of international recruitment, nor of the complexities involved in any dramatic growth in the number of overseas students.

Overall, Labour’s manifesto has some interesting ideas and promises, but the passages on higher education are perhaps somewhat disappointing. The significant overlap with the equivalent passages in the Fine Gael manifesto suggests that, unless the sector can succeed in rational persuasion, the trend over the coming years will be a continuing erosion of autonomy, a further drop in the available resources and a decline in Ireland’s standing in pursuit of a knowledge society.

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3 Comments on “Party time: the Labour Party”

  1. Good Series, although I think you were a little too kind to them. I gave Labour,SF and the Greens a failing grade in my review. FG was a 2.1 and FF a 2.1 also (with a warning to hand in original work next time and not lean on Hunt)

    Having completed your series on the party manifestos, could we goad you into writing your own?

  2. Vincent Says:

    I’m kinda exhausted at this stage with the whole thing. I do wish there was an hiatus for a few days.

  3. Ros Says:

    The Labour Party candidate called to my door yesterday. I asked him for his opinion on the impact of the Employment Control Framework on the third level sector. He asked me what the Employment Control Framework was! I think the look on your face last night on Prime Time said it all Ferdinand – you looked very underwhelmed by what you heard from the politicians and I don’t blame you. By the way, good to see you looking hale and hearty! When do you leave for Scotland?

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