New third-level funding scheme

 

Madam, - I welcome the news of additional funding being provided on a discretionary basis for universities and I fully support the reform agenda that is being implemented by, among others, the president of UCC. I also realise the national need for more graduates in some areas of science and technology.

I am concerned, however, that the allocation of funding contingent on the adoption of specific policies by universities might be used to downgrade the provision of third-level education in the arts and humanities.

A third-level education in the arts develops communication skills, techniques of solving problems both individually and within a group, reasoning, logic and analytical abilities. These skills are required in many different careers. Although an arts education may not be specifically vocational, it is, nevertheless, an education for life. It is in the national interest to create both a flexible workforce and a sophisticated electorate, aware of a wide range of social, cultural and economic issues.

The universities have been described as conservative. This may be a valid criticism of their structures, but not of the education they offer. Members of staff in the arts and humanities frequently engage with their students in a joint enterprise to open up new areas of understanding or to develop new teaching techniques. They take a radical approach that is creative and dynamic, based on a critical appraisal of both learning and knowledge.

The arts and humanities are at the forefront of the attempts to reach out to groups such as the educationally disadvantaged and lifelong learners. They must be allowed to continue to flourish if the Government is to achieve its laudable aims for third-level education. - Yours, etc,

DAVID HAROLD COX, Dean of Arts, University College Cork.