Programme for Government 2011-2016 – implications for 3rd level education

The full programme is here. What follows are extracts relating particularly to 3rd level education. I have marked key terms in bold to make this (rather dense) stuff easier to read.

“We will – within the first 100 days – resource a Jobs Fund which will … [amongst other things] expand eligibility for the back to education allowance”. (pp7-8)

“We will a develop new graduate and apprentice internship scheme, work placement programmes and further education opportunities for our young unemployed providing an additional 60,000 places across a range of schemes and initiatives. We will provide a range of initiatives to increase access to further higher level education for the unemployed.” (p8)

“We will replace FAS with a new National Employment and Entitlements Service so that all employment and benefit support services will be integrated in a single delivery unit managed by the Department of Social Protection … It will process citizen entitlements such as supplementary welfare allowances, higher education grants and welfare allowances.” (p8)

“We will actively develop the export of educational services.” (p9)

“We will develop a National Intellectual Property (IP) protocol to give predictability about the terms on which business can access IP created in Higher Education Institutions and the wider digital sector.” (p9)

“We will promote and support investment in technology research, development and commercialisation beyond basic research supported by Science Foundation Ireland, as well as removing barriers to innovation and accelerate exploitation of new technologies. We will target key technology areas and sectors where innovation can be applied including but not limited to high value manufacturing, advanced materials, nanotechnology, bioscience, electronics, photonics and electrical systems and information and communication technology.” (p10)

“The critical gap between basic research promoted and funded by Science Foundation Ireland and third level institutions and its subsequent development into commercial opportunity for investors can only be closed by making new technologies ‘investment ready’. We will establish a network of Technology Research Centres focused on applied technological research in specific areas, to be linked to appropriate higher education institutions. The centres will accelerate exploitation of new technologies by providing infrastructure that bridges gap between research and technology commercialisation. We will initially establish 3 additional centres focussing on biotechnology, nanotechnology and high value manufacturing. Further centres from a number of other areas will be selected at a later time.” (p10)

“A National Strategy for International Education will be implemented, to develop the ‘Education Ireland’ brand, to encourage more international students to study here and to create new jobs in the sector. Our objective will be to double number of international students studying in Ireland, particularly targeting students from India, China and the Middle East. This policy will be pursued in line with employment, academic and skill requirements of overall economy and education sector. We will overhaul the student visa system and ensure advertising, diaspora policies and quality assurance systems are strategically developed to best position the international education sector. We will permit postgraduate students to be allowed work here for up to a year after they complete their studies. High-value research students will be permitted to bring families if they are staying more than two years.” (p13)

“As part of our fiscal strategy the new Government will: … Undertake a full review of the Hunt and OECD reports into third level funding before end of 2011. Our goal is to introduce a funding system that will provide third level institutions with reliable funding but does not impact access for students”  (pp16-17)

“We propose a radical extension of the parliamentary question system, so that it shall be a statutory duty on any body established by or under statute, or with a majority ownership or funding by the State, to submit to the same parliamentary questions regime as applies to Government departments. This will involve a liability to provide answers to written questions within a specified number of Dáil sitting days.” (p19)

“In addition we propose a new procedure for answering oral questions by state bodies. The chief executive of every state funded body will be required to attend the relevant Oireachtas committee on a regular basis to answer oral parliamentary questions that can be submitted by any member, on a similar basis to the attendance of Ministers before the full Dáil.” (p19)

Public bodies will be required to openly compete for budget resources by publishing pre-budget spending requests, and what they would deliver in return for such allocations to help deliver Programme for Government.We will conduct a Comprehensive Spending Review to examine all areas of public spending, based on the Canadian model, and to develop multi-annual budget plans with a three-year time horizon. This plan will be presented to the Dáil for debate.” (p24)

“We will, subject to there being no compulsory redundancies and to the protection of front line services: Reduce the total number of public sector employees by between 18,000 and 21,000 by 2014, compared to the total number at the end of 2010. Reduce this number by a further 4,000 by 2015.” (p28)

“We will legislate to regulate stem cell research.” (p38)

“We will legislate for post-mortem procedures and organ retention practices as recommended by the Madden report.” (p38)

“This Government’s ambition is to build a knowledge society. Education is at the heart of a more cohesive, more equal and more successful society, and it will be the engine of sustainable economic growth. Ireland has experienced a decline in educational outcomes in recent years. We will draw from top performing education models like Finland to reverse this trend. Even in our country’s crisis, we can make progress in education and protect frontline services.” (p39)

“Maths and science teaching at second level will be reformed, including making science a compulsory Junior Cert subject by 2014. Professional development for maths and science teachers will be prioritised.” (p40)

“A bonus points system for maths, which is linked to specific maths or science courses, will be introduced to encourage greater participation in courses where skills shortages currently exist.” (p40)

“We will review the recommendations of Hunt report on higher education. A reform of third level will be driven by the need to improve learning outcomes of undergraduate degree students, as well as providing high quality research. We will initiate a time-limited audit of level 8 qualifications on offer and learning outcomes for graduates of these courses. We will introduce radical reform in third level institutions to maximise existing funding, in particular reform of academic contracts and will encourage greater specialisation by educational institutions. We support the relocation of DIT to Grangegorman as resources permit. We will explore the establishment of a multi campus Technical University in the South East. We will extend the remit of Ombudsman to third level institutions. We will merge the existing accreditation authorities; National Qualifications Authority, FETAC and HETAC to increase transparency.” (p43)

“Lifelong learning, community education and vocational training for jobseekers will be a high priority. We will expand training options for jobseekers across the VEC, further and higher education sectors to facilitate upskilling of the labour force. We will address the widespread and persistent problem of adult literacy through the integration of literacy in vocational training and through community education.” (p43)


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