Diarmaid Ferriter: So, what is a university for?

Can a university have a soul and be driven by priorities other than rankings?

Trinity College Dublin: O’Malley’s plan, announced in 1967, to merge UCD and TCD was defeated. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Trinity College Dublin: O’Malley’s plan, announced in 1967, to merge UCD and TCD was defeated. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

There will be some debate this year about the impact and legacy of minister for education Donogh O’Malley, who, this time 50 years ago, was adamant he would see through the introduction of the scheme for free secondary school education he had announced with a flourish in 1966. He had insisted the lack of access to secondary education was a “dark stain on the national conscience”.

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