Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Is Jerry Kennelly Right about "second-rate" Colleges and "Mickey Mouse" Courses?

My blog post on Monday about Jerry Kenelly's comments on third-level education in Ireland got quite a lot more views than my regular posts (about four times more) with much of the traffic coming from (where as I write it is the 7th most read story). Some readers took the time to comment on my post - not all of it complimentary. One commenter even said that Jerry Kennelly was "200% right".

To recap - Jerry Kennelly is reported to have said that some (unspecified) Irish Colleges are "second-rate", and that they are "set up for the benefit of academics". He also claimed that a lot of (unspecified) courses that are "absolutely useless", and that they are a "waste of peoples’ time and energy".

I have been challenged in comments to address and rebut the issue. I don't feel I have to defend the Irish third-level sector, or prove any commentator wrong. Nevertheless, two recent papers about the contribution of the third level sector directly rebut what Jerry Kennelly has to say.

Higher Education System Performance Report 2014

This report, the first for Ireland, makes for interesting reading. Two of its key findings were: 
  • Ireland is 1st in the world for the availability of skilled labour
  • 75% of Irish employers are satisfied with graduate skills
How could this be in a country with second-rate Colleges who deliver useless Mickey Mouse courses that waste people's time? Clearly Jerry Kennelly is not satisfied with graduate skills, but he is in a minority.

The Economic Impact of Higher Education Institutions in Ireland (Zhang, Larkin, and Lucey 2014)

In the above recent paper it was reported that the "gross income of Irish HEIs (Higher Education Institutes), a total of €2.6b in 2010-11, generated gross output nationwide of €10.5b". Again - not bad for a "second rate" system. The paper also shows that in Ireland we get "value for money" from our third level sector and that it should be a "source of pride" for the Department of Public Expenditure and the leadership of the third level sector in Ireland.

I'm sure there are other reports that that contradict and rebut what Jerry Kennelly had to say - but above two suffice for now.

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