Economist to chair national strategy for education


THE ECONOMIST and banker Dr Colin Hunt is to chair the Government’s new national strategy for education.

Dr Hunt, formerly of Goodbody Stockbrokers, works with the Australian bank Macquarie Capital Advisers.

He is a former special adviser to Brian Cowen in the Department of Finance and he was also a special adviser to Martin Cullen in the Department of Transport. A Fianna Fáil supporter, he appeared at party pre-election news conferences.

According to Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe, the new strategy will “set out the blueprint for the development of the sector over the next two decades”.

The strategy group is expected to complete its work by the end of the year.

Under its terms of reference it will:

Examine the effectiveness of the use of resources and identify how any additional resource requirements can be met, having particular regard to the difficult budgetary and economic climate;

Consider the role of Irish higher education in modern societies and, in particular, in the knowledge society;

Describe and analyse the current environment of Irish higher education including its student numbers, funding, funding models, organisational arrangements;

Assess the international environment in which the Irish higher education system operates, including the benchmarking of the system against relevant international comparators;

Develop a set of national policy objectives for Irish higher education for the next 20 years, with more focused targets for the sector for the next five years;

Identify the operational framework of the higher education system, including the number and roles of institutions within it which will enable it to deliver on these policy objectives.

The other members of the group are: Dr John Hegarty, provost of Trinity College Dublin; Marion Coy, president of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology; Dick Lehane, former senior vice-president of worldwide manufacturing at the EMC corporation; Paul Rellis, managing director of Microsoft Ireland; Peter Cassells, chairman of the National Centre for Partnership Performance; Shane Kelly, president of the USI; Michael Kelly, chairman of Higher Education Authority; Dr Mary Canning, former World Bank education specialist and HEA member; Brigid McManus, secretary general of the Department of Education; Martin Shanahan, assistant secretary of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment; Mary Doyle, assistant secretary of the Department of An Taoiseach and Robert Watt, assistant secretary of the Department of Finance. Two international higher-education experts will also serve.