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”.

It came at a time when only 10 per cent of working class teenagers in the 15-19 age bracket were in full-time education compared to 46.5 per cent for those from professional backgrounds. O’Malley’s initiative had a remarkable impact: even in the short term, there was an increase from 148,000 pupils in post-primary schools in 1967 to 239,000 by 1974.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.