Do we need another university?


Sir, – Dr Joseph Ryan’s claim (“Dublin college merger: technological universities arrive with a TUD”, Opinion & Analysis, December 31st) that “policymakers in this country have been strong in defending our diversified provision that caters to differing talents and learning approaches” is, well, a dud.

They have done no such thing. They have instead pursued and presided over an egregious narrowing of options for school-leavers to an almost exclusively academic, book-based education. They have done so with an eagerness explicable only by Ireland’s collective inferiority complex regarding third-level education. If mammy or daddy doesn’t pack a degree down their child’s neck, a third-level college certainly will.

The ensuing downgrading of qualifications now means practically any employable position at any salary level can demand a third-level qualification. Thus too many positions in the jobs market which previously were open to Leaving Certificate holders are now only available to graduates at enormous cost to parents, students and society.

In years past, viable paths to apprenticeship-led careers were available in the institute of technology sector for those less inclined or interested in pursuing the holy grail of a degree. This was giddily jettisoned by most institutes of technology over the last two decades with the result that well-trained, competent electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, chefs, etc, are ever harder to find.

Management in the remaining institutes of technology should abandon their vapid and vain ambition to become second-tier universities and commit instead to becoming first-rate institutes of technology.

In so doing they can provide vital, valuable and valued alternatives to strictly academic learning and offer educational pathways to a fulfilling work life and excellent earning potential for thousands of talented young people. – Yours, etc,