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Higher Education and Research Bill must not impinge on the designing of an equitable education system – Reilly

2 April, 2014

Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has stated that the objectives of the Higher Education and Research (consolidation and Improvement) Bill 2014 must not impinge of the designing of an equitable education system.

Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator Reilly said:

“Any policy objective set out in this proposed legal framework must not impinge on the ability of designing an equitable education system where people have equal access to educational facilities to study what is important to them and that is not dictated solely by the needs of the multinationals here – while not neglecting the need to simultaneously provide education that will help people gain employment. The point is that change must not come at the expense of the university as a learning environment.”

“I am extremely alarmed at aspects of the Bill which could see university’s firing people will for running a deficit. Education and teaching requires more than stuffing 600 people in to a lecture hall.

“Furthermore, there is a section of the Bill which seems to allow universities to set fees ‘for student registration’ at will. Sinn Fein is unwilling to support a measure that would allow fees to be brought in under this guise.

“Clearly what this Bill does not address is the need for consistent decent funding for our higher education sector in order to address the education needs of young people.”

“There also needs to be an honest discussion about the priority for spending on higher education by the government. Education is a public good and should be acknowledged as such in and of itself and the need for balanced, strong, and sustainable public investment is obvious.”

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