Tuesday, February 09, 2016

@FineGael's Long Term Education "plan" #GE16 #327

I'm not usually one for checking out political party manifestos or plans, essentially I don't believe what they say - now matter how well-intentioned or well-meaning they are. In our electoral system where an overall majority for one party has not been achieved since 1977, everything has to be negotiated post-election with other parties.

Image Source: Finegael.ie
Fine Gael has published "A LONG TERM ECONOMIC PLAN TO KEEP THE RECOVERY GOING" (their caps), and I decided to look at what their plan for education at third level is. Sad to report that it is very little, and very vague. The word "University" is not mentioned once in the 36-page document and the only time the word "College" is used is a single reference to the Garda College. In contrast - the word "etc" is used four times in the document! I also looked for reference to "third level" education  - none to be found, and the HEA (Higher Education Authority) is mentioned just once in a rather grand statement:

We will benchmark entrepreneurial activity in Irish higher education against appropriate international peers and work with the HEA to ensure an ambitious and implementable plan to identify and address skills gaps, ICT and STEM needs. (p22).

There's no proposal on how above is to be done, though I'm sure in time that Fine Gael will publish a green paper on their policy, followed by a white paper, and maybe even an orange paper (to complete our national flag colours!). This proposal concentrates on "entrepreneurial activity", with no mention of learning and teaching, or research. There's no mention of funding for research in third-level, though there is a vague statement about "Doubling investment in publicly performed research".

Oh dear - not much in this document for the third-level sector to get excited about. I suppose it is natural that I, as a third-level employee, would look into such documents as above and see "what's in it for us". I'm sure others do this from other sectors. I would hope that the successive policies of all our governments of improving access to third-level education is continued and improved further. For me, providing funding for conversion courses in areas like Data Analytics, Software Development, and Cloud Computing is an inspired use of public money provided by the Springboard and ICT Skills initiatives, Long may they continue, and I certainly hope that Fine Gael, and all the other parties, commit to this.

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