Seanad Éireann - Volume 95 - 19 November, 1980

National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, Bill, 1980: Second Stage.

Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Aire Oideachais (Mr. Wilson): Molaim an dara léamh a thabhairt don Bhille seo chun An Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Baile Átha Cliath, a chur ar bhonn reachtúil.

Is mór an pléisiúr dom an chaoi seo a bheith agam chomh luath i saol an fhorais nua. Ní fhéadhfadh an Bille teacht os comhair an Tí ag am níos oiriúnaí. Ar an aonú lá déag de Mhí na Samhna 1980, ghlac an Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Baile Átha Cliath, leis an chéad ghrúpa mac léinn.

Cúpla mí ó shin do mhol mé don Teach seo Bille chun an Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Luimneach, a bhunú. Mar is eol don Teach bhí an Foras Náisiúnta i Luimneach faoi lán tseól ar feadh roinnt blianta sul a ritheadh an Bille ina leith — déanta na fírinne, bhí tréimhse ocht mblian, beagnach, idir fómhar na bliana 1972, uair a ligeadh isteach an [155] chéad scata scoláirí sa bhForas Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Luimneach, agus Iúil 1980, nuair a ritheadh Bille an Fhorais Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Luimneach, ag dhá Theach an Oireachtais.

Chruthaigh na himeachtaí sa tír seo thar na hocht mbliana sin an chríonnacht a bhain leis an rún institiúd nua den triú leibhéal a bhunú a mbeadh claonadh inti i leith teicneolaíochta. Ach thaispeáin na himeachtaí seo an riachtanas a bhí ann institiúid eile a bhunú a mbeadh de chúram air níos mó céimithe a sholáthar a bheadh oilte sna scileanna nua teicniúla —tá an-éileamh orthu san ann anois.

Tá borradh níos mó faoin oideachas ins an réimse teicneolaíochta ná in aon réimse oiliúna eile den tríu leibhéal.

Taispeánann an Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Baile Átha Cliath, agus institiúidí mar é, taispeáineann siad é sin go soiléir. Oibríonn siad go dlúth le lucht déantúsaíochta agus le lucht tráchtála chun deimhin a dhéanamh de go bhfuil bonn ceart faoi na himeachtaí seo.

Tá an t-ádh orainn gur leagadh síos na pleananna bunúsacha agus an bhunsraith sar ar ghéaraigh an t-éileamh i gcóir teicnéolaithe oilte, go mór mhór in innealtóireacht agus eolaíocht. Is í an aidhm atá ag an bhForas Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Baile Átha Cliath, ná céimithe a sholáthar atá oilte go praiticiúil sna scileanna áirithe atá á lorg ag lucht déantúsaíochta agus gnótha i láthair na huaire.

Chláraigh timpeall dhá chéad agus daichead scoláire ins an bhForas go luath sa mhí seo. Thángadar ó gach áird den tír — a bhformhór, timpeall 55 faoin gcéad, ó áiteanna taobh amuigh de Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus bhí árd-éileamh ar áiteanna. Chláraigh na scoláirí seo i gcúrsaí céime i sé réimsí oideachais — Staidéir Gnótha, Cúntasaíocht agus Airgeadas, Usáid Ríomhaire, Staidéir Cumarsáide, Eolaíocht Anailíseach agus Innealtóireacht Leictreonach.

Ba mhaith liom a rá ar an ócáid seo go bhfuil an Bille seo ar aon dul le hAcht an Fhorais Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Luimneach. Phleámar an Bille i leith an fhorais i Luimneach go mion sa Dáil agus sa Teach seo. Sna toscaí, tá suíl agam go mbeidh ar chumas an Tí seo glacadh leis [156] an mBille seo go fonnmhar. Tá ag an Teach buntáiste na ndióspoíreachtaí a bhí againn cheana féin le linn don Bhille faoi Luimneach a bheith á phlé.

Tá rian an Achta sin le feiceáil ar an mBille seo freisin agus measaim go luíonn sé le reásún go mbeadh na Billí don dá Fhoras ar an dul céanna;

Measaim go mba chóir dom anois cuid bheag de dhúlra an scéil a thabhairt. I 1969 iarradh ar an Údarás um Ard-Oideachas tairiscint a fuarthas ó Choiste Ghairm Oideachais Bhaile Átha Cliath maidir le bunú coláiste nua Teicneolaíochta agus Tráchtála i mBaile Munna a scrúdú agus moltaí ina leith a chur faoi bhráid an Aire Oideachais. Sa tuarascáil ón Údarás um Ard-Oideachas, a cuireadh ar fáil i Mí na Nollag 1970 moladh go n-aithneófaí an géar-ghá a bhí le níos mó saoráidí oideachais den triú leibhéal i mBaile Átha Cliath, go mór mhór i limistéar na teicneolaíochta.

Thaobhaigh an tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas leis an dtairiscint go mbunófaí an coláiste nua i mBaile Munna dá mbeadh na hudaráis chuí go léir sásta nach raibh suíomh ní ba lárnaí ar fáil. Ghlac an tAire Oideachais leis na moltaí seo agus shíolraigh An Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas i mBaile Átha Cliath as an mbreith sin.

The National Coalition Government's decisions of 13 December 1974, in relation to higher education included the following in relation to the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin:

(i) The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin shall be a recognised college of either of the Dublin Universities with the capacity to evolve into a constituent college of one or other of the Dublin Universities or to become an autonomous degree-awarding institution

(ii) The majority of the members of the governing body of the NIHE, Dublin shall be nominated by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister for Education and shall include representatives from the trade unions, agriculture, business, industry and educational interests.

[157] (iii) A Council for Technological Education (later re-styled National Council for Educational Awards) shall be established to plan and co-ordinate courses and to validate and award non-degree third-level qualifications in the NIHE Dublin (and other institutions).

(iv) The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin shall be a designated institution for the purposes of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971.

(v) The governing body of the NIHE Dublin shall consist of twenty-five members.

On 5 March 1975 the Government approved a list of names of persons to be invited to act on the governing body of the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. An acting director was appointed on 18 June 1975 and the first meeting of the governing body was held on 19 June 1975. The terms of reference of the governing body included responsibility for the planning, in consultation with my Department, of the form and structure of the institute, the courses and staffing requirements, and all other details of the new institution, and for making recommendations to the Minister for Education consequent on these consultations. The terms of office of this ad hoc governing body have been extended until the institute is established on a statutory basis.

I must record my appreciation of the work of the governing body. It is a challenging task, but never simple, to oversee the establishment and development of a new institution, We were fortunate to have a group of people who were generous with their time and expertise.

On 14 December 1976 the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, was designated by the then Minister for Education, as an institution of higher education for the purposes of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971.

A director for the institute was appointed on a permanent basis and took up duty on 21 March 1977.

When I became Minister for Education, one of my first actions as Minister [158] was to restore to the National Council for Educational Awards its degree-awarding function. On 18 November 1977 I announced that the NCEA was to be the degree-awarding authority in the case of students who successfully completed degree level courses in the NIHE Dublin — and also in the NIHE Limerick, the Thomond College of Education and the Regional Technical Colleges.

In May 1978 the Government decided that the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin would be a third level educational institution offering degree, diploma and certificate courses with a mainly technological bias and that the institute would cater for students in the Dublin area and the country generally. The Government authorised me to negotiate for the acquisition of the site at Ballymun and to invite tenders for the building of phase I of the institute — a college of commerce capable of accommodating 800 students.

One of the major problems in establishing a new institution of this type in the Dublin area, is the difficulty of obtaining a suitably located site big enough to provide adequately for the requirements of the institution. The price of land in the Dublin area adds considerably to the cost of the project. Before finally deciding on the Ballymun site a number of other possible locations were considered. Either these were too small in area or they were too far out from the city centre and required vast investment in infrastructure — roads, water, sewage and other services. The site at Ballymun was finally decided on as the most feasible site available. It was purchased for a substantial sum.

Renovation work on part of the existing Albert College buildings commenced in January 1980 and has only recently been completed, providing about 3000 square metres of accommodation. Work on the new commerce building also commenced in January 1980 and it is expected that the commerce building will be ready for occupation in Autumn 1981.

The commerce building will accommodate 800 students and the renovated part of the Albert College buildings will accommodate about 200. The total cost [159] of site purchase, construction works, and equipping these two buildings will be in the region of £6½ million.

Due to the delay in completing the renovation work at the Albert College buildings, it was not possible to admit the first group of students to the institute until 11 November 1980. To compensate for this late opening the institute will continue its summer term into July 1981.

The demand for places in the institute has been so high that the accommodation is being pushed to the limit and a bigger number of students will be admitted than originally intended with the limited facilities.

About 240 students will be admitted to six degree courses — business studies, accounting and finance, computer applications, communications studies, analytical science and electronic engineering. The form of selection of students is based on leaving certificate results plus aptitude tests.

About 55 per cent of students will come from outside Dublin city and county indicating that the institute is national in its appeal, and about 5 to 10 per cent of the students will be mature students, showing the institute's commitment in this area.

The outline and structure of the courses have already been approved by the National Council for Educational Awards and the first two years — in some cases the entire four years — of each programme have been planned in detail by the institute and approved by the council. The programme will be practically oriented and the institute will operate a system of monitored industrial placement. The benefits for all concerned of this type of relevant practical work experience are incalculable. Not only does the student gain useful experience and an advance insight into his eventual working environment but employers become familiar with the abilities and skills of the institutes' graduates and a very valuable feedback is provided between academics and employers as to the requirements of industry and the new and different skills available.

The role of industrial liaison is most [160] important in any technological institute. The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, is already moving to implement this role in different ways. In addition to the industrial placement element of courses, the institute is considering part-time courses for industry and business. It has recently appointed a head of industrial liaison to develop and co-ordinate the institute's interaction with industry. Many of the senior staff have come direct from industry, some of them Irish returning from abroad; and industrialists sit on academic selection boards.

The institute has a firm commitment to new technology, and applied research programmes are being devised. All staff have a proven record in research and a commitment to the development of research. The institute has already begun its first research project in the applied physics area with a grant awarded by the National Board for Science and Technology. This underlines the real commitment of the institute to applied research and is additionally significant in that it has been achieved before students arrive.

The next phase of buildings will concentrate heavily on the provision of places for technology, science and engineering, and will provide 2,700 places.

The provisions of the Bill are identical with the provisions of the National Institite for Higher Education, Limerick, Act, 1980, passed by both Houses earlier this year.

Section 1 deals with the interpretation of the various terms used in the Bill. Section 2 establishes the institute which shall be known in the Irish language as An Foras Náisiúnta um Árd Oideachas, Baile Átha Cliath, and in the English language as the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin. Section 3 defines what is meant by membership of the institute and section 4 provides for the functions of the institute.

The functions are:

(a) to provide degree level courses, diploma level courses and certificate level courses and, subject to such conditions at the Minister may prescribe, such other courses, including post-graduate courses as [161] may seem appropriate to the governing body;

(b) to engage in research in such areas as the governing body may deem appropriate;

(c) subject to the approval of the Minister, after consultation with An tÚdarás

(i) to buy and acquire lands or buildings,

(ii) to institute, and if thought fit, to award scholarships, prizes and other awards.

(d) subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe, to maintain, manage, administer and invest all the money and assets of the institute.

(e) to accept from donors gifts of land, money, or other property upon such trusts and conditions, if any, as may be specified by the donor, provided always that nothing in any such trust or condition is contrary to the provisions of the Act;

(f) subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe, to do all such acts and things may be necessary to further the objects and development of the institute.

Section 5 provides for the establishment of a governing authority for the institute, to be known as the governing body, and prescribes its structure and functions. More detailed provisions for the operation of the governing body are set out in the First Schedule. The governing body are to consist of a chairman, the director and 23 ordinary members. The chairman and the 23 ordinary members shall be appointed by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister. The manner of appointment of the 23 ordinary members is set out in section 5 (4) and is as follows:

(a) Nine shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister in accordance with the provisions of section 5 (5), which draws particular attention to the need for adequate representation of industry, agriculture, fisheries, commerce and the professions;

[162] (b) Three shall be appointed who shall be members of the academic staff of the institute who shall be chosen by the academic staff in accordance with regulations made by the governing body;

(c) One shall be appointed who is a member of the non-academic staff of the institute chosen in accordance with regulations made by the governing body;

(d) Two shall be appointed who are fulltime students of the institute chosen in accordance with regulations made by the governing body;

(e) Three shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the teaching staffs of the colleges of technology managed by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee;

(f) Two shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the teaching staff of regional technical colleges;

(g) Two shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister from members of the management boards of regional technical colleges; and

(h) One shall be appointed on the recommendation of the governing body of the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick.

Section 6 provides for the functions of the governing body. The governing body shall manage and control all the affairs and property of the institute and shall perform all the functions conferred on the institute by this Act and shall have all such powers as may be necessary under this Act for this purpose. The governing body may from time to time appoint such and so many committees as it thinks proper to assist it in such manner as the governing body shall direct and the governing body may assign to any committee so appointed such duties as it thinks fit. The acts of any such committee shall be subject to confirmation by the governing body unless the governing body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation.

[163] Section 7 provides for a post of chief officer of the institute, to be known as the director. The Second Schedule sets out the conditions governing the appointment of the director.

Section 8 provides for the establishment of an Academic Council for the institute and prescribes the functions of the council. The academic council acts as specialist advisers to the governing body on academic matters. Its functions relate to the planning, co-ordination, development and overseeing of the educational work of the institute. The membership and terms of office of the Academic Council are determined by regulations made by the governing body. Section 8 (3) lists particular functions of the council as follows:

(a) to design, develop and implement appropriate programmes of study;

(b) to make recommendations to the governing body for the establishment of appropriate structures to implement such programmes of study;

(c) to make recommendations to the governing body on programmes for the development of research;

(d) to make recommendations to the governing body for the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students generally;

(e) to make, subject to the approval of the governing body, and to implement the academic regulations of the institute;

(f) to propose to the governing body the form of regulations to be made by the governing body for the conduct of examinations and for the evaluation of academic progress;

(g) to make recommendations to the governing body for the award of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries, prizes or other awards;

(h) to make general arrangements for tutorial or other academic counselling;

(i) to exercise any other functions, [164] in accordance with the provisions of the Act, which may be delegated to it by the governing body; and

(j) to implement any regulations which may be made by the governing body concerning any of the matters aforesaid.

With the approval of the governing body, the academic council may establish such and so many committees either consisting wholly or partly of persons who are not members of the institute as it thinks proper to assist the academic council in the performance of its functions and may determine the functions of any committee so established.

Section 10 provides that the staff serving in the ad hoc institute may be transferred to the service of the statutory body and protects the conditions of service, pay, and pension rights of the transferred staff, which will not be any less favourable than the conditions they enjoyed while serving as members of the staff of the ad hoc body.

Section 11 places responsibility on the institute to prepare and submit to the Minister as soon as possible after the passing of the Act, a pension scheme for staff. All provisions of any pension scheme submitted by the institute will be subject to the approval of the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister for the Public Service. Every approved scheme will be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and may be annulled by resolution within twenty-one sitting days.

Section 12 requires the governing body to submit to the Minister annually a report of the work of the institute. The section also provides that the institute will give the Minister any information about its operation that he may require from time to time.

Section 13 provides that in each year there shall, in accordance with section 12 (2) of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971, be paid by the Higher Education Authority to the institute, out of moneys received by the authority under section 12.1 of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971, a grant or grants or such amount or amounts as the authority thinks fit.

[165] Section 14 requires the institute to keep accounts which must be submitted annually to the Comptroller and Auditor General. When the Institute receives the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the accounts, it must submit this report, with the accounts, to the Minister. The Minister will lay the accounts, and the Comptroller and Auditor General's report before the Oireachtas.

Section 15 enables the institute to charge fees for admission to courses, lectures, examinations, exhibitions or any other event held by the institute or for admission to any event held at the institute.

Section 16 is the usual provision that the expenses incurred by the Minister in the administration of the Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Section 17 provides for the short title and the commencement date.

The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin is being established statutorily at an earlier stage of its development than was the corresponding institution, the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick. But developments since 1972, when the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, first opened its doors have not only proved the wisdom of the decision to establish one new third-level institution of this type, but have demonstrated clearly the necessity to establish at least one more such institution, which will concentrate on producing more graduates trained in the new technological skills for which there is such a demand.

Now, an institution like the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, is not merely accepted, but widely welcomed. Its advent could not be more opportune at a time when manpower requirements show how acute is our need for an increase in the supply of trained technologists. The institute will contribute substantially to meeting this demand, with emphasis on the areas of electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, analytical science, biotechnology and computer applications.

The institute completes the integrated, [166] complementary complex in the third-level non-university area, constituted by the RTCs, the colleges of technology, the NIHEs and the NCEA. It will interact with the RTCs in the same way as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick. The National Council for Education Awards will have an important co-ordinating role to play in approving credit for council-approved programmes in the various institutions.

This Bill has been modelled on the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Act, 1980, which was discussed in detail in this House earlier this year. I would, therefore, expect a speedy passage for this Bill and likewise when the universities legislation comes, I hope to have the National University of Dublin Bill before the Oireachtas before very long followed by Cork, Galway and May-nooth. I hope that dealing with one early on will expedite the handling of the others.

Molaim mar sin an Bille don tSeanad mar thogra a bhfuil lán-mhuinín agam as ó taobh leas na tíre agus an oideachais.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald. I think the Minister is entirely right in saying that the institution to be established by this Bill when enacted is not merely accepted but widely welcomed. In the economic situation in which we find ourselves it is literally true that lack of a sufficient number of skills of an appropriate nature actually reduces the number of people who can be employed. At this moment we are involved, necessarily in the circumstances which arose, in a makeshift operation in the sense that it would be correct to say — the Minister may have said it here or in the other House — it was necessary to have a recruitment campaign abroad to get people with the skills so that others might get employment. That may have, and I think it has, moved to a lower key — if that is the correct expression — currently and it has, I think, always contained a bias in favour of Irish people living in Britain. At the moment we are employing a sort of medium-term, makeshift of giving conversion courses to people coming out of the universities with primary degrees. [167] Again, to show the extent to which I agree with the general objective which the Minister is trying to achieve with this legislation and that relating to the Limerick Institute, it is worth noting that in the IDA plan 1978-82 for the achievement of 75,000 new jobs, the estimate was that 33,000 would be in engineering or in engineering related projects. The present view, widely expressed, is that this is the kind of demand which is going to be increased if happly we continue with successful promotion in the hands of the IDA. There will be continued emphasis on the creation of engineering and engineering related projects, whether mechanical, electrical or electronic.

Oddly enough, I know something about this though I am no engineer, simply through my professionsl operations and I have learned a good deal about the way things are going in this area. Therefore, in general I am very much in favour of this Bill. I do not wish to engage in nay particular probe but simply to consider how we might structure these things for the future. To what extent was everyone surprised that the IDA seem to have achieved their objective so far? To what extent did our institutions of Government react on the assumption that there would be success in the achievement of these targets? To what extent have we lost out through a certain degree of inflexibility in our institutions? To what extent, for example, at this moment is the impact on the whole tone of Irish life being estimated by anybody at any level in terms of one authority's operations towards achieving an expansion of a particular type of industrial project? To what extent is there in the thinking lying behind this and the other Bill, for example, any true consideration of, or is there even a sign of an arrangement to consider the social implications of these developments?

For example, if this resolution so to speak succeeeds at the rate it has succeeded in the last decade to what extent will there be much more leisure available? To what extent is there in the thinking of those in charge of education consideration as to what ought to be done to [168] educate the people for the proper utilisation of that leisure? I know that one of these frightful ad hoc phrases may immediateltly be applied to you if you start any of this kind of talk either on the basis that you are being paternalistic or that you are afraid that some other type of revolution is going to result. I would be concerned if some other kind of revolution resulted. I would be concerned, not perhaps for the reason Senator Murphy may think, but for the damaging effect on existing modes of life of any revolution—revolution as distinct from a gradual evolution, an adaptation to the institution.

I know that the decision has been made and the Minister obviously gave great thought to this question of separating the degree-awarding business to these institutions from university education, for example. I am concerned that in the Minister's statement in his comprehensive speech the six degree courses he listed are business studies, accountancy and finance, computer applications, communications studies and analytical science and electronic engineering. Simply becaus Senator Murphy never did business studies, accountancy and finance, computer applications, communication studies and analytical science and electronic engineering he should not assume that that was necessarily a bad thing for Senator Murphy.

Professor Murphy: Senator Mulcahy would be a better example.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: Senator Murphy may be able to contribute very much more to this because he did not have to spend five years engaged in computer applications, communications studies and even analytical science because I would take the view that Senator Murphy is making supervisor use of his intelligence in doing what he is doing at the university and the better he does this the better I would appreciate his doing it.

I have a serious point to make here. The Minister is right in expecting a speedy passage for this Bill. He might have saved himself some printing costs if he had put the two Bills into one, adding [169] Limerick to Dublin: I am applying the word generally to the two of them. But I would not expect the Minister to get a speedy passage of his univarsity Bill through here. I think that the introduction of that Bill ought to be assisted by the issue of a memorandum such as we get on these occasions and have got on this occasion. i would like to see, not exactly a While Paper, but a very full account of the reasoning behind any of the decisions there may be embodied in that university Bill so that there would be a better debate and we would be able to focus our attention on the decesions instead of having to wait and react. We all know where we would be on this Bill but we might have to be in the position here or in the other House to react on the spot to the real content which would be what the Minister would say in his speech rather than what could be discerned from study of the actual terms of the Bill.

For example, one of the things that created a lot of trouble in the United States in 1968 was the general development of the charge that education was being given to the business of producing raw material, a labour force to be employed by capitalists and from which money would be exacted and which would be exploited. This generally was a criticism. I would be afraid of how these institutes might go if they were unwisely guided. I am saying nothing very much but I read with apprehension from page one to whatever was the last page of a symposium which took place on the position in this country on the year 2000. The level of thinking demonstated in, I am bound to say, all of the contributions left me only throughly dismayed. Really it is only one of the reasons why I am talking at all on this Bill.

There is a kind of treason committed by persons who are aware of the value of pure research and of having a proper hierarchy of values applicable to the use of time. There is an awful betrayal involved in not putting right at the top the pursuit of truth, which is obviously quite maintainable as an objective to be given priority in statutory positions in regard to technological [170] education of the kind we have here. I am not any socialist but there might have been in the Minister's speech an indication that among the studies that would be made would be study of the processes of government, of how the affiars to this country ought to be administered. There should be specific training given to people which would form the basis of further study at university level, people whose objective in life would not be to get hired in an electronics company and make £25,000 a year for ten years but whose ambition would be to play a part in the running of their country.

We heard sounds coming in here earlier this afternoon and probably they will be foolowed by others. I am not very surprised in view of the quality they are getting, either in terms of Bills introduced in Dáil Éireann, decisions made by the Government or the Opposition or in the level of debate that takes place in these Houses, in the lack of genuine truth in the administration of our affairs and in the expression of our situation to our people.

In regard to governmental studies, there is the British tradition in the older universities but there is another important tradition. I attach great importance to the value of academic independence. With the operation of technical academic indepedence, I am shocked at the degree of academic dependence that I find shown in this dear island. the lack of usage of the academic independence which the academics are given seems to me to be more a matter for worry than the existence of academic independence. I would like to see academic independence very much more enshrined and protected in these institutes than I thnk the structure provides. That value is attached very particularly to the British universities.

The Minister, the last time I was roaming on this territory, corrected me and I acceted his correction. I referred to the traditions in Germany and he added, of course, in France where there is centralised conduct of university affairs and we saw the awful collapse that resulted from that in 1932-33 when the academics just gave in. I am not drawing any parallel [171] between Mr. de Valera and Adolf Hitler in any way, but whether they were out of their minds or not, at least the academics in Ireland in 1932 did not fall down before majority opinion; at least they maintained independence. Some of it might have been bloody-mindedness. The situation was able to produce that and create a good tension in the management of our affairs. If one goes back to the German situation a little bit further, even as early as the 15th Centuary, one will find deliberate decisions to establish cameralistic institutions specifically designed by the prince and his advisers to produce people who would give him good advice.

I saw an intervention by a member of the Labour Party in the Dáil, “the Lord preserve us from lawyers.” I would like to suggest that you should not be looking to the Lord to do things that you could fo for yourself and I do not believe in the God of the gaps, incidentally. If you want to be preserved from lawyers, get yourself lawyers, that is te only way. It is a free activity, this business of preactising law. It is a free activity telling citizens what their rights are and how to secure them and to be prepared to take on the blasted State if necessary. it is an abysmally bad situation when I do not know of a Department State that is equipped with an adequate degree of legal skill. As a result of that and the operation of the bias it reflects, there are defects in a lot of our legislation.

There are defects in the conditions under which we borrow money, for example, and all sorts of ignorances which betray themselves. This country will only be governed will if people get over their hang-up because they are used to a certain kind of gassy lawyer or wheeler-dealer attorney because they have a vision of this kind of stage character. They must understand that the business of running society which is this free and should be determined to be free involves an understanding of what the law ought to be, as well as an application of the law that is. This is much more important than some of the factors that are listed, that they may have the advantage of producing for companies the skills [172] they are looking for and, more important, other people can get employment because these skills are fed in.

In our situation the whole industrial development drivehas been successful because it has been postured well with regard to tax relief and grants, presented well by the individuals involved, directed with an understanding of capitalist motivation, which is not to say anything about how the institution of capitalism works. That has been the main source of success. Admittedly in the last couple of years there has been a most welcome development in getting what would, in any case, come about, that is, the Irish supply side to these multi-national corporations. But we have a situation which is very likely to remain where we will have a predominately international flavour in our industry. Somebody said that there is no stupidity greater than the stupidity of some peopleof sharp understanding and that is extremely true. I see people with sharp understanding coming out of thes institutes—and indeed they are coming out of universities today—who because of that sharpness of understanding have not the patience to reflect on what life is about of what is the object of work, what kind of problems have to be solved for peace, order and good welfare of our people.

The fact that there us a very strong foreign element likely to remain in our industry means that there is very likely to be reaction against it and that reaction could be extremely damaging to the people who do not really mind very much about the general social situation, provided they can look after their wives and children. Most people are not too bothered about anything else. That is all I am concerned with, these people who want to continually lead these kind of lives. What I am really trying to say in relation to all of this is that i am not entirely happy with the decision which seems to be there of the total separation of this system of technological education from the broader academic sphere. I can see how this decision could hace been made because dealing with professors other than our friend here and trying to get quick decisions would drive you mad.

[173] Professor Murphy: There are proressors on the other side somewhere.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: I can understand that this is a quicker way to get people with skills than expecting governing bodies of the different colleges to adjust their courses to produce the skills that are necessary. This is a matter that the Minister in his Department ought to be watching pretty carefully over the years. It is what I call the “cultural factor”. I do not know what are the functions of the Higher Education Authority, but one of them ought to be to direct the Government's attention to changing attitudes and what may be necessaty to make adjoustment to industrial change.

I welcome the Bil, appreciating the need and subject to the general criticism what I had about the Limerick Bill, that I see too much of the Government in it and that we are already too subject to Government in these matters. i would wish to see more encouragement for freedom in the administration of these colleges and I would like to see their people coming out with as good a degree as it is possible to give them. I would not like a prejudice to arise in these institutions in producing the kind of person who is good at doing sa job.

I have been taking to a group who have set up in electronics. I do not know whether they have actually opened their operations here, but they have been immensely successful in their firld. This particular company remained ahead of all their competitors because of their design. They remained ahead because of their design because they found the most able and imaginative employees could not be subject to the normal kind of work discipline and they arranged for an eye-shutting operation to take place with regard to these employees. They might excuse themselves for this, that or the other reason, but after months of absence would come in, suddenly throw themselves into a frenzy and produce a new design which would put that company again ahead of its compatitors.

I thought it interesting to discover that much of the success, even on the productivity [174] level, lay in the existence of imaginative people who were not too tied down in their daily operations. There may be a moral in the tale, which I believe.

Dr. Whitaker: Guím rath ar an Institiúid nua seo do Bhaile Atha Cliath. Is maith agus is mithid ann í. Tá foireann teagaisc den chéad scoth aici. An oiliúnt san teicneolaícht a thabharfar faoina scáth is deimhin go ndéanfaidh sí leas na tíre. Níl rún agam móran moille a chur ar an Teach ná ar an Aire, but I would like to recall that when the prototype of this Bill, namely, the Bill establishing NIHE Limerick, was before the House last July, I spoke on the Second Stage and with the support of Senator West, I introduced amendments on the Committee Stage dealing with two points I considered to be of public interest in relation to third level institutions generally. The principles which I feared then were not being adequately safeguarded were these. First, the disirability in the public interest of providing expressly in the statute for external participation in the academic posts, not just leaving this to good sense or custom or chance, and also providing for a preponderant weight to be given to the recommendations of assessment boards so constituted. That is the first principle. The second is the desirability in the public interest of providing expressly in the statute for periodic external confirmation that the standard attained in degree and diploma courses corresponds to that required for corresponding degrees and diplomas in other EEC countries.

The amendments attracted some support from Senators on both sides of the House and they were not, indeed, opposed on grounds of principle.

As regards the first point, the Minister, while accepting the importance of excellence in appointments and of impastiality in the procedure leading to appointments, indeed the desirability of the kind of assessment procedure recommended in the relevant amendment, saw no need to make mandatory what was already to a large extent being done voluntary in NIHE Limerick and in NUI. As I said [175] then, and I am repeating it now, I am not persuaded that a matter so important as this should be left entirely to good behaviour. Many less important matters are being specified and regulated in this governing legislation. Why should the public interest not be expressly safeguarded in relation to appointment procedures as well? This is precisely what governing legislation is for.

As regards the second point I mentioned earlier, periodic advice on the adequacy of standards of degree and diploma courses, there was again general acceptance of the desirability of assuring adequacy of such standards. The Minister argued that the National Council for Educational Awards could be relied upon to do this and, indeed, he pointed out that they were statutorily obliged to satisfy themselves that standards correspond or are analogous to those in force in “universities”. The Minister went on to say that that word was to be read as meaning universities either in Ireland of elsewhere. The Minister's reassurance on this point is acceptable as far as institutions under the auspices of the National Council for Educational Awards are concerned. NIHE Dublin will receive its degree and diploma awards from the NCEA. But there would still be cause for anxiety if the Minister were to follow the model of these NIHE Bills when he comes to introducing new university legislation. Then at least he should provide expressly for an external check on degree standards. This safeguard has existed in the case of the National University of Ireland for 72 years and, as I said in July, it has been necessary and has proved its worth.

The Minister mentioned in his closing remarks that he would soon be introducing legislation dealing with the NUI and I am sure that not only will the House get notice of it, with an explanatory memorandum, as Senator FitzGerald requested, but that also the Chancellor and other officers of the University will receive notice of the legislation.

I will end by drawing attention to section 9 of the Bill which is, I suppose inadvertently, the only section on which [176] the Minister did not comment in his opening remarks. It is the section dealing with staff. I argued regarding the corresponding section of the Limerick Bill that the prerogative of deciding initially how many and what kinds of staff they need should be left to the governing body of the institution, indeed generally to the boards of all State bodies, with provision for periodic post factum review of complements and grades. The staffing provision in the Limerick and now in this Dublin Bill requires the approval of two Ministers for appointments, even though the financial case for staff has to be made to the Higher Education Authority. This seems an unnecessarily restrictive provision and, as I pointed out before, is out of line with the more enlightened provisions of the Acts relating to the National Board for Science and Technology, An Chomhairle Oiliúna Talamhíochta and Bord na Gaeilge. Again I earnestly hope that the Minister will not carry these restrictions into university legislation.

This being said, I would like to express a very warm welcome for the arrival on the educational scene of NIHE, Dublin. It comes just in time to give a fillip to the technological development which is so vital to Ireland's future economic and social progress.

Professor Murphy: Let me begin by congratulating Senator Alexis FitzGerald on a truly marvellous extempore contribution. It seems to me that if Senator FitzGerald's speeches did not exist we would have to invent them. May I congratulate you, Sir, for being so indulgent. I took great heart indeed from that same indulgence because it will be remembered in other cases where irrelevance may be alleged. I sympathise with Senator FitzGerald on his constant timorousness about the possible revolution that is to come. I understand the grounds for his concern and I pointed them out some years ago in correspondence I had with him but, since I like him, I can only hope it will not happen in his lifetime.

I really do not understand why Senator FitzGerald kept on implying that institutions like the National Institute for Higher Education would, unless modified [177] in the direction of the humanities, turn out a kind of technological man who would be somewhat less than human. In his very interesting speech he suggested, for example, that the students there should study government. I am not so sure that they should. Who among our governors has studied government? You might well say that that is a great deficiency in their education. In point of fact one of the important elements of education in NIHE and in similar colleges such as the polytechnics in Northern Ireland is a strong unit of communication studies. These afford, in an otherwise technological education, a great humane oasis of liberal education, I know many of the people working in these areas in places like the Ulster Polytechnic and indeed already in the up to now ad hoc national institute in Dublin. I am very confident that this is one of the more successful areas in the NIHEs, if I may use that awful but useful abbreviation, in Dublin and Limerick. I would not have the same grounds for misgiving as Senator FitzGerald seems to have.

My misgivings about the Bill are quite other and I am glad that Senator Whitaker reminded us of the discussion we had here last summer. He raised again the misgivings he had about the appointment system and the need there was to write into such Bills a firm structure of appointment with provisions for external assessors and so on. Senator Whitaker also pointed to section 9, which deals with the recruitment of staff, and gave his opinion that just as in the case of Limerick, this puts one more ministerial stranglehold on the flexibility of the administration.

I am very glad to see the Minister always in this House. I think he likes coming to the Seanad. It must sometimes be lonely out there in that sparsely populated wilderness, the intellectual wing of Fianna Fáil, so he is welcome here. I hope the next time he comes it will be with the White Paper, one of the pieces to be salvaged, we hope, from that once imperishable but now sadly discarded and tattered document, the Fianna Fáil pre-election manifesto of 1977. I am glad to see the Minister here and, like Senator [178] Whitaker, I welcome the Bill. I understand the Minister's particular interest in this side of education. There may be something of a paradox here that being himself in the traditional, not to say the classical, mould he is particularly anxious to see the technological side being developed. I may confess to the same predilection. In my case it is because, as I said on the Limerick occasion, we had the salutory experience in UCC of seeing how a traditional university is not fitted to supervise and to mother, so to speak, this new kind of institution.

I recognise the need for these new structures. Let us not, however, join in the now fashionable chorus of saying how useless arts graduates are. I am very glad to be able to support what was said in recent weeks by the university heads in Dublin, Cork and Maynooth about the enduring value of the arts graduate. When one looks at him en masse on conferring days he is a depressing sight in his apparent uselessness. Yet, there are very comforting studies which show that the unemployable nature of the arts graduate is more apparent and temporary than real. So then, I welcome the National Institute of Higher Education Dublin in the sense that it is not connected with the traditional Universities, that it is autonomous at least in that sense of not having a big traditional academic brother. We met some of the NIHE Dublin people here in Leinster House some months ago. They invited us to a conference at which they informed us about how they were setting themselves up and asked had we any questions and so on. It was a most useful occasion and we were impressed very much by their dedication. I also fully agree, unlike, I think, Deputy E, Collins in the other House, that the National Council for Educational Awards should be the sole validating body of this institution.

An Cathaoirleach: Tá sé a leath uair tar éis a cúig anois agus sin an t-am go gcaithfear críoch a chur leis an díospóireacht seo.

Professor Murphy: Is the House sitting [179] tomorrow? It is not clear. Is it proposed to resume this Bill next Wednesday?

Mr. E. Ryan: It is not proposed to sit tomorrow. The Bill probably will be taken next week.

Debate adjourned.