What have Andreas Schleicher of the OECD, US multinational companies and Finland got in common? Answer: they are all more influential in Irish higher education than I am.
What am I referring to? On Tuesday of this week the Irish Times published a list of the ’50 most influential people in education’ in Ireland. At number 1 was Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, while bringing up the rear at number 50 was Clive Byrne, Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals. My successor as President of Dublin City University, Brian MacCraith, is the most influential university head in Ireland and is at number 10 in the list, followed by UCD President Hugh Brady at number 20. Very much to my own surprise, I am still in there at number 29, despite my departure for Scotland.
So what is this, then? A harmless bit of fun? Or does this list tell us something more? It was compiled from lists presented by 50 key figures, and in that sense represents a statement about who or what is likely to determine the future of the education system. And so what is striking is that the top 20 influencers are mainly people or organisations who are not actually directly working in education. Economist Colm McCarthy, at number 3, is the most influential educator, followed by Brian MacCraith at number 10.
The list presents us with a useful snapshot of how education is being shaped right now. As education is at the heart of the country’s future, the list makes for interesting reading. Let us hope that those who have this influence use it wisely.
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