Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Opposition to university privatisation agenda underlined at Oireachtas Committee meeting

26 February, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Science Seán Crowe, speaking following a meeting with between the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science and theOECD review team for third level education has underlined Sinn Féin's opposition to the privatisation of universities in Ireland.

Deputy Crowe said: "The global trend in education these days is based on the primacy of the market economy and other consumerist and commercial values. Some of the submissions made to the OECD have argued for the privatisation of universities. This would make those universities far more dependent on financial support and donations from the private sector than they currently are.

"I would have grave concerns for the independence of academic research carried out in universities that are dependent on corporate donations and there are several examples of this sort of conflict of interest in American and Canadian universities. The HEA has pointed to colleges like Yale and Harvard as examples of what they wish to 'evolve' into. Personally I do not see universities where undergraduate fees are $40,000 a year per student a step forward in the evolutionary process.

"While there is a widespread and generally accurate perception the education system has driven our economic boom, we cannot ignore its failures. There are high rates of adult illiteracy and drop out rates among young people. Universities, many of them located in or near disadvantaged areas need to build closer links with the communities around them. Sinn Féin has put forward the idea for Learning Neighbourhoods in our Education policy documents, copies of which I gave to the review team, and I hope they take note of the suggestions." ENDS

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