Dublin Institute of Technology Bill, 1991: Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 10 June 1992

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 421 No. 1

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Section 1 agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Amendment No. 1 is in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 1, 58 to 63 inclusive, and 74 form a composite proposal. I suggest that we discuss these amendments together, by agreement. Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Aylward): Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, subsection (1), line 24, to delete the definition of “the Director” and substitute the following:

“ `Director' means a Director of the Institute;”.

In the Bill as published it was proposed that the principals of the existing six City of Dublin vocational education committee colleges would, if the governing body so recommended, be appointed by the vocational education committee as [177] heads of college. Such colleges would be as determined by the Minister from time to time. Strong representations were made with regard to this proposal. It was felt it would diminish the status of the principals as compared with their colleagues in the regional technical colleges through the use of the term “head of college” rather than director and through the proposal that they would be appointed only if the governing body so recommended. I fully accept the arguments made in both respects. It is not intended that these principals should be treated less favourably than their colleagues or that they should be subject to less beneficial conditions of service than those to which they were entitled prior to the establishment date. This principle is provided for in section 13 but in order to clarify the intent such principals will, under the terms of this and related amendments, particularly in section 10, be known as directors of the institute and will be so appointed by the governing body. These amendments should be welcomed in that they rightly coppenasten the position of the existing principals who have contributed so much to the development of the institute and they should also be welcomed in that, taken with amendment No. 2, defining the president, they further reflect the high status of the institute.

Amendment agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Amendments Nos. 2, 29, 44, 54, 55, 56, 78, 87, 122 and 124 to 128, inclusive, form a composite proposal. I am suggesting therefore that we take these amendments together, by agreement. Agreed.

Mr. Alyward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 2.

In page 4, subsection (1), between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

“ `the President' means the President of the Institute;”.

This amendment deletes the term “director” and substitutes “president”. This [178] amendment is introduced in response to representations made with regard to the Dublin Institute of Technology, other third level institutions and the regional technical colleges. I would refer in this regard to the Second Stage speech by the then Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke. She referred to the formal establishment of the Dublin Institute of Technology by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee in 1978 to bring about better co-ordination of the work of the colleges, who trace their origins back to the 1880s. She referred to the extensive range of courses at apprentice, technician, degree, professional and post-graduate levels. She mentioned also the wider activities of the institute, including centres to provide specialised training and computer-based services to industry and an increasing involvement in research and development. Most importantly, she referred to the fact that there are now almost 9,000 full-time and over 10,000 part-time students in the institute, making it arguably the largest third level institution in the country.

For all the above reasons it was considered essential that the title of the chief officer of the institute should be consistent with the status of the institute. This change is reflected in this amendment and in amendments Nos. 29 and 44 to section 6, amendments Nos. 54, 55, 56 and 57 to section 9, amendments Nos. 78 and 87 to section 12, amendment No. 100 to section 13, amendment No. 122 to the Second Schedule and consequential amendments Nos. 124 to 128, inclusive, to the Third Schedule.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 2, as amended, agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Amendment No. 3 is in the name of the Minister. Amendment No. 4 is an alternative and amendment No. 6 is consequential on amendment No. 3. I suggest therefore [179] that these amendments be discussed together. Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

Mr. Alyward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, subsection (2), lines 17 to 20, to delete all words from and including “and shall comprise” in line 17 down to and including “Committee” in line 20.

This is a drafting amendment to clarify the intention of the Bill to set up a single institute to be known as the Dublin Institute of technology, to be constituted from the institutions specified in the First Schedule. Amendment No. 6 is consequential on this amendment. Amendment No. 4 is no longer relevant consequent to my amendment.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Section 3 (2) states:

The Institute shall be constituted from the institutions specified in the First Schedule to this Act and shall comprise such and so many colleges as may be determined by the Minister, from time to time, on the recommendation of the Governing Body made following consultation with the Vocational Education Committee.

The Minister's amendment proposes to delete that subsection. I am not so worried about the sections contained in the Schedule but I am worried about the right of the governing body to make further recommendations from time to time in relation to additional institutes. Our amendment No. 4 states:

In page 4, subsection (2), line 19, after “recommendation of the” to insert “Vocational Education Committee or the”.

This would mean that either the governing body or the vocational education committee could make a recommendation. This is very important. This section was included in the Regional Technical Colleges Bill. Dublin is a very big city, with over a million people in the greater Dublin area. This Bill deals with [180] six institutes, namely, Bolton Street, Kevin Street, Rathmines, the College of Music, the College of Marketing and Design and the College of Catering. There should be scope for further development. Not alone should it come within the power of the governing body of the new institute set up under the Bill but it should also come within the power of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee to examine whether in the future development of the city there is scope or need for a further third level institution. It is reasonably well catered for at present, particularly on the south side, in that we have Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. In addition, we have many private third level colleges.

Under the Regional Technical Colleges Bill the new regional technical college in Tallaght will shortly come on stream. We do not have an equivalent regional technical college on the north side of the city which has not got its fair share of cothrom na Féinne in relation to third level education. The point may be made that there is St. Patrick's Training College, the College of Technology, Bolton Street and the College of Marketing and Design, Mountjoy Square but we would make the point that there is need for an equivalent regional technical college type institution in the north city. Provision should be made for that in the Bill. If a regional technical college institution is identified as an elementary need for the future development of third level education in the city, either now or in the future, the subsection which the Minister is about to delete, and we seek not alone to retain but to reinforce, should at least be retained.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  The proposal by the Minister is a radical move, making a finite decision which leaves little or no scope to meet educational needs as they may emerge. If we are to allow education to evolve and, in particular, if we are to ensure that education will meet the needs of our time we have to be prepared to accept recommendations, whether from [181] governing bodies or from vocational education committees. The deletion of lines 17 to 20 of section 3 (2) not only prevents recommendations coming from anybody but it curtails the Dublin Institute of Technology, consisting of six colleges, as listed in the First Schedule. Why has the Minister taken this step? On what evidence can be make a decision that expansion of Dublin Institute of Technology colleges will not be needed in the future? If so does it mean we will have to have new legislation?

The Minister's amendment is short-sighted. It does not take into account what we have learned from the past that education continually evolves over a period, that new needs emerge and that new demands have to be catered for. We wait so long for any kind of legislation in education that when we come to the point of enacting it we should include in it scope for further development. Not only did we welcome section 3 (2) but we wanted it expanded to include recommendations from the vocational education committee. We accept that education will change and that the needs of the future cannot be decided on the information we have today. It would be a pity if we took any step to hinder or impede development in the Dublin Institute of Technology colleges in the future.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When introducing this amendment the Minister described it as a drafting or a technical amendment. It seems to be far from that. I am at a loss to know what the thinking is. Section 3 (2) states:

The Institute shall be constituted from the institutions specified in the First Schedule to this Act...

Subsection (3) goes on to inform us that whenever the Minister considers it necessary, and after consultation with the vocational education committee, he can identify other institutions which will form some kind of a relationship with the institute. It goes on to say they could be included in the First Schedule, that they could be incorporated into the institute, [182] become a college of the institute, or be amalgamated with an existing college.

The Minister's amendment presents us with two alternative scenarios, first, it would leave us with subsection (2) being clearly in conflict with subsection (3), if subsection (3) means that another institution, other than the six which are already identified, could become part and parcel of the institute and have the same relationship to the institute as any of the other six. If subsection (3) does not mean that then we have a bigger problem. I suggest we have a bigger problem because otherwise the Minister would not have introduced this amendment. I can only conclude that the Minister has introduced this amendment in order that the new institutions, the new colleges, would have a lesser relationship to the Dublin Institute of Technology than the existing six. I wonder whether the amendments have a remote relationship to the amendments we discussed some minutes ago where, and rightly so, the heads of colleges are now defined as directors of the colleges, a president is to be established and so on.

The Minister needs to clarify this matter because it seems that we are setting the ground for a two-speed Dublin Institute of Technology. We would have the six existing colleges who would be part of the Dublin Institute of Technology under subsection (2) and any new college would have a lesser relationship to the Institute. I would be concerned about that as I would be about any prospect of empire building which may be somewhere in the background in relation to the Minister's amendment.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I too am somewhat baffled by these amendments. Amendment No. 6 reads:

In page 4, subsection (3), lines 29 and 30, to delete “and shall become a College of the Institute or be amalgamated with an existing College of the Institute”.

The whole subsection appears to be in bits. The provision remains to introduce another educational institution, or part [183] of an institution, which can be included in the First Schedule. I do not find a definition for “college” in the definitions section. Deputy Gilmore asked what would be the status of the addition if it cannot become a college of the institute, as would appear to be the case from what remains of section 3 (2) and (3). Is this a device whereby the Department can bring in another institution, or part of an institution, without having a director of such an institution. I think these are hastily conceived amendments and that they are referred to in an agenda which has not been presented to us. I would like clarification of them.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  What is in question is the creation of a single Dublin Institute of Technology. At present the new institute will be constituted from the six major Dublin colleges which are the third level colleges of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. The Bill allows for the incorporation of other educational institutions or part of an institution. I would emphasise that what is in question is to create a third level institute. It would not, therefore, be proper to include non third level schools or colleges, for example post leaving certificate courses. Post leaving certificate courses are not third level programmes although they are very valuable.

I would remind the House that in relation to post-leaving certificate programmes the Minister for Education last year established a National Council for Vocational Awards. This body is charged with establishing a comprehensive certification system for these courses. The certification system will include appropriate credit transfer arrangements. Accordingly, students pursuing the post-leaving certificate programmes could, in due course, proceed to third level, subject to attaining the necessary standards and to the availability of places, a constraint which applies to all students. Detailed arrangements in this respect will be worked out with the new certifying body and the institutions.

To turn to the two subsections, section [184] 3 (2) deals with the existing six colleges; and section 3 (3) deals with the possibility of including other institutions if the Minister or the vocational education committee considers that such should happen. The deletion was made on the basis that the wording was superfluous.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I would like a clear reply from the Minister to the question asked by Deputy Ahearn: why was this put in initially? The wording was not superfluous when section 3 (2) was drafted by the Department for a previous Minister. There was a specific intention behind the wording and that was to allow scope for future development. I would suggest that we are talking about future development on two fronts, the possibility of existing schools coming of age, developing their PLCs to a sufficiently high standard and eventually becoming fully fledged as such, or the needs identified by the vocational education committee or the governing body of the institute in a growing capital where there will be increased demand for third level, as we exhort people to stay longer in education and participate in the third level process. This was the intention behind this. Why the deletion at this stage? It was not deemed to be superfluous at the time. For some reason or other it has now been culled from the Bill and we have a greatly watered down version. I am very much afraid that what we are talking about here is a two-speed process, the elite group consisting of the existing six — and they are an elite group and do very fine work in their fields — and any others who come on board and who could at a subsequent stage be only second cousins to the existing six.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  The answer given by the Minister of State does not clarify the matter as raised by the Deputies on this side of the House. Both the amendments, the amendments to section 3(2) and section 3 (3) delete the word “college”. It is clear that the intention here is to provide that no further college of the institute can be provided. Institutions or part of educational institutions could, in [185] certain circumstances, be added to the First Schedule of the Act. The bottom line here is that the strategy that I believe pervaded the Regional Colleges Bill is coming to the fore here again and it is to prevent this institute from broadening and including further services, further courses that in the fullness of time, could be very important in terms of equipping students to go out into the labour market and into society generally to find their places. There seems to be an element here of trying to do it on the cheap by removing the prospect of a further college being added to the First Schedule.

I would like the Minister to clarify that for me succinctly. Do his amendments Nos. 4 and 6 prevent another college being added to the First Schedule at a future time? If an educational institution or part of an institution is added to the First Schedule at some future date, what exactly will its status be? In the Regional Technical Colleges Bill as presented by Deputy Davern there was a new concept of a regional college. This is a term that was not defined. The term “college” is not defined here either. There is something very woolly and inconclusive about that. I believe there is some definite intention here and I believe that does not relate to the growth of the institute. We are looking for straight answers to two questions. Do amendments Nos. 4 and 6 prevent any college being added to the institute at any future time and if, as seems to be provided for under section 3 (3), an educational institution or part of an educational institution is added to the First Schedule, what exactly would the status of that additional institution be?

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  I was listening to the debate in my room and felt it was an appropriate time to come and share the concerns of my colleagues on this side of the House and support the case they are making. The establishment of the Dublin Institute of Technology is very welcome. With the separation of these colleges from the activities of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee, there are serious concerns about the many [186] valuable features that system had. The Minister's proposal touches on this area because there is a question of whether these colleges are to be an elite and become more and more detached from the vocational education committee system and very much distanced from some of the communities that currently have very close links with the colleges. We are anxious to ensure that some of that ethos be maintained.

I was at a presentation of certificates in my local vocational education committee school recently and one of the issues raised was in regard to the very close links of great value that exist and allow youngsters who would not normally think of going to third level to move through it. If the Dublin Institute of Technology becomes so separated from what were traditionally the important schools and colleges feeding young people gradually into full third level education, it would be of concern to us on this side of the House. We are concerned that these amendments tend towards that kind of approach to the new institute. We are concerned that some of those links be maintained however that is achieved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  First I want to emphasise that future development is not precluded. New institutions or part of new institutions can be incorporated and the Bill allows this. Any new colleges that are incorporated would be fully integrated within the new institute and would not have second-class status. There will not be separate colleges within the institute. This is not a federation but an integration and that is borne out in the Bill.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  How would this come about? In section 3 (2) we are dealing with the initiative coming from either the governing body themselves, the umbrella organisation who are in a position to see where the needs are and whether there is overcrowding in the individual units or collectively, or from the vocational education committee who again are in a position to assess. If a large part of section 3 (2) were deleted and the provision relied on section 3 (3), the addition [187] of an institute or a part of any such institute would depend on whether the Minister considered that any other educational institute or any part of any such institute should be incorporated into the institute. Whenever the Minister was of that view, he or she would be able, by order made with the consent of the Minister for Finance following consultation with the vocational education committee and the governing body, amend the First Schedule by inserting the name of the institute or a description of the part thereof to be incorporated. In fact, we are waiting for the Minister and for those in Marlborough Street to determine whether or not there is a need for an institute or a part of an institute to be incorporated.

We on this side of the House are making the very clear case that the people best fitted, best equipped and closest to reality in relation to determination of the needs would be the governing body of the institute and/or the vocational education committee. Those two organisations, individually or collectively, would know what the needs are. The initiative should come from that quarter. With the rapid change of Ministers for Education that we have had of late and with the distance from reality on the part of the Department and the Minister, we would be waiting a very long time if we were to wait for the initiative to come from the Minister. Surely any initiative in that regard should be at the instigation of the people on the ground, the vocational education committee or the governing body.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  We are dealing with two issues, which are, of course, related. The first issue is the Minister's wish to delete part of section 3 (2). Having listened to the Minister's two replies on the subject, I am now more convinced than ever that if what he is saying is the case, that at some stage in the future additional colleges could be added and they would be incorporated into the institute on the same basis as the existing colleges, there is no necessity for the proposed deletion. In fact, the deletion proposed by the [188] Minister has raised the issue of whether or not new institutions would have the same status in the institute as the existing six colleges. The best way to deal with that problem would be for the Minister to simply withdraw his amendment.

I very much support the amendment proposed by Deputy Higgins. A similar debate about the Minister and the vocational education committees was held in the context of the Regional Technical Colleges Bill. It would be unwise to provide that the Minister alone would have the power to designate additional institutes. That power should be given to the vocational education committee. I might give just one example, perhaps, of what I mean by that. Deputy Flaherty mentioned that she recently attended a presentation ceremony in her constituency. I had the same experience. Last Friday evening I attended an exhibition at the Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design. The college had a long history of being regarded by the vocational education committee as a third level college but being regarded by the Department of Education as a second level school. It is only now that that issue has been ironed out and the Minister and the Department have at long last accepted the College of Art and Design as a third level college.

The experience of the College of Art and Design gives an example of what can happen and of the difference in views that can exist. A very fine institute was being developed by the vocational education committee but was not getting the recognition that it deserved from the Department of Education or from the Minister, for reasons relating to staffing, precedent, money and so on. It can happen that the view of the vocational education committee and the view of the Minister may not be ad unum as to whether or not an institute is appropriate for designation as a third level college and, perhaps, for inclusion in the Dublin Institute of Technology at a later stage. It is very important that the vocational education committee have the role proposed by Deputy Higgins and Deputy [189] Ahearn in relation to the designation of colleges.

I should not like what has happened in the past 15 years or more in relation to the Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design to happen in the context of the Dublin Institute of Technology. The work, aspirations and drive of the College of Art and Design were being frustrated and but for the enormous commitment of the staff, students and the vocational education committee that college might not have survived and developed to the position at which they face the prospect of 450 full-time students next year.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I am still not clear about the definitions and the explanation I sought from the Minister. I shall put my questions in a different form. Under the Bill as amended could a new college of the institute be put in place by the Minister? Could a new educational institute or part of an institute be amalgamated into an existing college? If it is not the case that a new college could be created or that an educational institute or part thereof could be amalgamated into an existing college, what would be the status of the new educational institutes or part of institutes? In this regard, my concern — among others — is that there could creep in a number of “bits and pieces”, bodies with no particular status, which could not become colleges or part of a college. That would be an untidy and an unwelcome development.

In general, I feel that the amendments proposed certainly do not improve the Bill. More important, they would not give the institute the opportunity to grow, to expand and to have the full benefit of the wisdom of the vocational education committee, in this instance the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee.

My three questions in relation to other educational institutes or a part of such institutes being incorporated into the institute have still not been answered to my satisfaction. Could a new college be created? Could an educational [190] institute or part of an institute be amalgamated into an existing college? If it is not the case that a new college could be created or that a new educational institute or part of an educational institute could be amalgamated into an existing college, what would be the exact status of that institute? What would the position be in relation to staffing? In other words, would there be a director of such a new institute? The position is very vague and I must say the debate so far and the Minister's response are not making the matter any clearer.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  It seems to me that there is a possibility that an amalgam of the combined amendments would achieve everything that we on this side of the House wish. The Minister's amendment placing the option of the college or part of the college in the Schedule would not be a problem for us if he were to accept our means of including the vocational education committee and the governing body of the institute as groups who could initiate the process of including such a college. As Deputy Ahearn said, there is a tremendous movement in growth and change in many of the institutes. There are three senior colleges that I know of within the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. There is the college in Ballyfermot, the college in Ballsbridge and one in Finglas, at which college I also attended the presentation of certificates. The college in Finglas started as a senior college only last year. The number of students increased from 400 to 600 during that year. The college offered an incredible range of courses which had all been developed there, not just locally but regionally and indeed nationally as regards some of the courses. They run an accounting technician course and a unique course in the area of transport skills and the movement of goods throughout the Community particularly and beyond as required. It is a two-year course which is proving extremely successful and innovative. Given the pace of development in just one year, one could not set any limits on a college like that. [191] To achieve today's objectives, will the Minister accept the inclusion of “vocational education committee and the governing body”? That would meet the views expressed on this side of the House.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Section 3 (2) deals with the existing six colleges; section 3 (3) provides for the inclusion of other institutes if the Minister considers that this should happen. As I said, the purpose of the amendment is to remove any ambiguity regarding the structure of the new institute. It will not be a federation of colleges. However, other institutes can be incorporated and integrated in the structures of colleges on the same basis as existing colleges. I am pre-empting the debate but I should like to inform the House that I have decided to accept amendment No. 5 in the names of Deputies Higgins and Ahearn.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 4 not moved.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I move amendment No. 5:

In page 4, subjection (3), line 21, after “Minister” to insert “or the Vocational Education Committee”.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I appreciate what the Deputies seek to do in this amendment and, accordingly, I am pleased to accept it. I will consider a corresponding amendment for the Regional Technical Colleges Bill on Report Stage, as promised in the House.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  On Report Stage perhaps the Minister will clarify the amendment by the addition of “the governing body of the institute”, a body which should similarly be able to initiate in that regard.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 6:

[192] In page 4, subsection (3), lines 29 and 30, to delete “and shall become a College of the Institute or be amalgamated with an existing College of the Institute”.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We now come to amendment No. 7. Amendments Nos. 20, 25, 46, 109, 111 and 112 are related and amendment No. 110 is an alternative to amendment No. 109. It is proposed, accordingly, to discuss amendments Nos. 7, 20, 25, 46, 109, 110, 111 and 112 le chéile. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 7:

In page 4, subsection (4), line 33, after “name” to insert “and to acquire, hold and dispose of land”.

In the Bill as initiated all land which was vested in the vocational education committee for the purpose of the institute was to be held by the vocational education committee in trust for the purposes of the institute. It was, however, a function of the governing body to manage and maintain all property of the institute, including land vested in the vocational education committee for the purposes of the institute. As I said in relation to the regional technical college Bill, I consider that these provisions could lead to an overlap of responsibilities and are out of line with the aim of giving colleges as much autonomy and responsibility as possible within the framework of agreed policies and budgets. I propose therefore to vest institute land in the institute. This is provided for in amendment No. 109 to section 19, which amendment also deletes the original provision. Amendment No. 7 is a standard provision consequent on this decision. Amendment No. 20 to section 5 is also consequent on this decision enabling the Institute where necessary to acquire land subject to the normal requirement of the approval of the Minister. Amendment No. 25 to section 5 is also consequent on this decision as it makes the provision at subsection [193] (4) to allow gifts of land to the institute to be held in trust by the vocational education committee unnecessary.

Amendment No. 46 to section 7 deletes reference to the institute managing and maintaining all property of the institute including land vested in the vocational education committee for the purposes of the institute and again is consequent on the decision to vest land in the institute.

Amendment No. 12 to section 19 is also consequent on vesting the land in the institute and provides that in the event of a question arising in relation to whether land stood vested for the purposes of the institute or with regard to the transfer of rights and liabilities such question will be referred to the Minister for decision.

The intent of amendment No. 10 from Deputy Higgins and Ahearn is covered by my amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 3, as amended, agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 4 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  When we were discussing the regional colleges Bill I asked for clarification of what “membership” entails. It seems to me that “membership” is just a national honorary title which does not have any relevance or meaning. What is the point in including it in the Bill?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  The members of the institute shall be (a) the members of the governing body; (b) the members of the academic council; (c) the members of the staff; (d) the registered students of the institute; (e) the graduates of the institute; and (f) such other persons as the governing body may appoint to be members.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  An bhfuil tú sasta nó níos eolaí ná mar a bhí tú?

[194]Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I ndáiríre, níl mé. Níl aon rud agam i gcoinne ailt 4 ach chun an fhírinne a rá, tá sé ráiméiseach é a bheith istigh. It is not really of any great consequence having this section here. There are no duties, responsibilities or anything of value emanating from this, it is purely cosmetic. However, I will not oppose it.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Will the Minister again elucidate why he included it? I know it is a grand concept but I should like to know why it is included.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I agree with Deputy O'Shea that there is a lot of ráiméis spoken in this House but I suppose that is one of our privileges. Membership is purely an honorary concept and is standard in all third level institutions.

Question put and agreed to.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  I move amendment No. 8:

In page 5, subsection (1), line 3, after “training” to insert “, including apprenticeship education,”.

This amendment is very important. Those of us who were privileged to work within the vocational education committee system in the past know the contribution it made to apprenticeship education. The system turned out excellent apprentices and our vocational schools staff were, at all times, prepared to devote time and energy to the education of apprentices. Over a period of time this responsibility has been given to FÁS, the training authority. In addition, many changes have been made to the apprenticeship scheme. Indeed, I criticise the way in which this matter is being handled because employers were led to believe that the existing apprenticeship scheme had been brought to an end. As a result, many of those who would have liked to become apprentices find themselves in a vacuum and are not being taken on by employers because they are [195] waiting for the new changes to be implemented.

At a time of massive unemployment if we are to check the unemployment spiral we will have to invest in apprenticeship education. I believe that the Dublin Institute of Technology colleges should be given the responsibility to provide this education. The one thing we have learned from other countries, Germany in particular, is that if people are made redundant they should be re-trained so that they can avail of further job opportunities. I am delighted to have this opportunity to move the amendment and I hope the Minister will accept it. It would be a step in the right direction as it would cement the apprenticeship scheme as we know it.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  This amendment is also in my name. When one realises that there are over 5,000 apprentices and craft technician students attending the Dublin Institute of Technology colleges one becomes aware that apprenticeship education forms an important part of the institute's activities. The amendment includes the word “education”, and I believe that is the key word as apprenticeship education has as much to do with training as it has with the qualification obtained. I also believe that provision should be made for education in its true sense because craft technicians should be exposed to the humanities as well as to technical training.

It is very important that this amendment be made to the Bill as it would enshrine this concept in the preamble to section 5 which deals with the functions of the colleges. I strongly suggest that the Minister of State should accept the amendment as it makes an important statement on apprenticeship training.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I endorse the exhortations from Members on all sides of the House that the Minister of State should accept this amendment. One of the main features of the 1930 Act is the provision which states that it is the responsibility of the vocational education committees to [196] provide training and education for apprentices. Over the years, AnCO and FÁS were established and given responsibility to provide apprenticeship education. It is not just a question of providing manual training, there is also the education element.

We have to acknowledge that the apprenticeship scheme is a farce and is not being operated for the benefit of those with a high degree of manual skill. If a person wants to become an apprentice he must first find a sponsor. However, in the present depressed economic climate it is virtually impossible to find one. It is not possible for industrialists, manufacturers or employers to provide the money. In addition, the scheme has become bogged down in red tape. Would-be sponsors have become so browned off that they are literally walking away from the scheme; they do not want to see anyone coming to them looking for sponsorship. Furthermore, because employers have to wait a long time before they are reimbursed and have to make numerous requests to FÁS — and to AnCO in the past — the good has been knocked out of the scheme by the time they get their money.

In order to circumvent the difficulties in relation to sponsorship, many parents, in desperation, are now going to industrialists, manufacturers and employers to ask them to stamp the documentation and to say to them that they will do the rest. As a result, only those people who can actually afford to meet the cost themselves can get into the scheme. This means that many top quality people with a high degree of manual skill and ability, who would make excellent apprentices but do not have the necessary finance, end up in breakers' yards in Great Britain. They end up plying their raw labour on the building sites of Wimpeys and so on.

The scheme, as I have said, has got bogged down. There is an urgent need, therefore, to review the scheme in its entirety and to go back to basics. There is also a need to acknowledge, as has been said, that these colleges provide top class instruction. While a major question [197] mark hangs over the quality of instruction at certain FÁS courses there is no question mark hanging over the standard of instruction, which is par excellence, at Dublin Institute of Technology colleges.

We need to review the 1930 Act in its entirety. That Act vested in the vocational education committees the primary responsibility to provide apprenticeship training. That is the reason I look forward to a comprehensive review of the entire scheme and I urge the Minister of State to enshrine the thrust and principle contained in the 1930 Act in this Bill by accepting this amendment.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I accept many of the points made by Deputies and I am aware of the importance of apprenticeship education in the Dublin Institute of Technology. The provisions of the Bill aim to give the greatest possible flexibility in encompassing existing course provisions and future developments. The provision in section 5 (1) was drawn up bearing in mind the diversity of existing provisions and including the apprenticeship area. I am satisfied that apprenticeships can be satisfactorily catered for within the provisions of the Bill.

As I said, I recognise the value of apprenticeships and I have provided for off-the-job education and training for apprenticeships. The Bill will allow this to continue. In addition, students benefit from third level education. I consider a specific reference unnecessary over and above the reference to technical education and training. As Deputies are aware, FÁS are the statutory body with responsibility for apprenticeships. Not all apprenticeship education takes place in educational institutions; for example, we have FÁS training centres. This matter is under review at present. It would be difficult for me to accept these amendments at this stage although I have sympathy with what has been said. If I said I would examine it for Report Stage I might give the impression that we could do something about it.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  May I respectfully inquire whether the Minister has consulted [198] the 1930 Act? I cannot quote the actual section but I will be in a position to do so when we resume our debate on Committee Stage. The 1930 Act is quite specific in relation to the role of the vocational education committees as the bodies responsible for apprenticeship education and training. The 1930 Act is the umbrella Act covering all of this, even though, if you like, we are establishing a new body of legislation to govern the new Dublin Institute of Technology. If there are at present 5,000 apprentices, and a growing demand for apprenticeships in the Dublin Institute of Technology, why can we not accept this amendment which simply seeks the insertion of the words “including apprenticeship education”? We are not necessarily infringing on the FÁS remit.

If these colleges had the £200 million going to FÁS at present I suspect they could do an awful lot with it in terms of cost/benefit and productivity, or a segment would achieve a tremendous amount in terms of apprenticeship training. Why can we not include apprenticeship education here? These colleges are imparting education and are taking in apprentices. Why not combine the two and insert the global term “including apprenticeship education”?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I might suggest that we look at this again for Report Stage without my being held to any commitment. The Deputy, I am sure, would agree that I must have a certain latitude on this. In those circumstances I would be prepared to look at it for Report Stage.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  That undertaking on the part of the Minister would be acceptable except that there is a point that needs to be underlined here. There are 24,000 students enrolled in the Dublin Institute of Technology, 5,000 of whom are apprentices. This means we are talking about a group that represents more than 20 per cent of the student body in the Dublin Institute of Technology. I could foresee this difficulty with the Minister's response, that it could send out a signal that the apprenticeship content of the [199] Dublin Institute of Technology operation could possibly be moved away from the Dublin Institute of Technology within the context of the governmental review arising from the recommendations of the Culliton report. I take it that is the review about which the Minister is speaking.

The Minister should be more conclusive here. The staff of the college, particularly those who deal with apprenticeships, might be very concerned that the Minister is not prepared to accept this amendment. I fully appreciate the Minister's difficulty in that there is a review taking place. Nonetheless, I should like us to be as definite as possible as we progress through this Bill. I would not be happy to leave Committee Stage without having received further clarification.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  If I were in the same position as Deputy O'Shea on a different matter, I would probably seek the same response. I have been reasonable with regard to this amendment and I hope that the Deputy will appreciate my response in that context. It is important that we take another look at it. Therefore, I will agree to examine it again for Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We come to amendment No. 9 in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 15 to 19, inclusive, 21, 67 and 123 are related. It is proposed, therefore, to take amendments Nos. 9, 15 to 19, inclusive, 21, 67 and 123 together, for discussion purposes. Agreed.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 9:

In page 5, subsection (1) (a), line 7, to delete “subject to such conditions as the Minister may determine,”.

In the course of Second Stage debate concerns were expressed by a number of Deputies who referred to the number of times phrases such as “subject to such [200] conditions as the Minister may determine” appeared in the Bill, giving the impression that control was being centralised with the Minister and his Department. I have already assured the House that what would be at issue would be the laying down of ground rules. But, as in the case of the Regional Technical Colleges Bill, I propose to remove references to ministerial involvement except where they are considered to be absolutely unavoidable.

Accordingly, it is proposed to delete the phrase “subject to such conditions as the Minister may determine” from section 5 (1) (a), (e), (g), (h) and (j). These changes are effected by way of this amendment and amendments Nos. 16, 18, 19 and 21. This principle of deleting ministerial involvement is carried further in amendment No. 67 to section 11. This proposes the deletion of the words”, subject to such requirements as the Minister may from time to time specify,” in relation to the academic council's function in the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students and in an amendment which proposes to delete “such requirements as the Minister may lay down” in paragraph 14 (a) of the Second Schedule, which deals with the function of the governing body with regard to admissions to the college and courses of study.

With regard to section 5 (1) (d) and (f), I consider it necessary that the Minister should be enabled to determine conditions in relation to colleges engaging in research, consultancy and development work. This would be envisaged as a once-off determination. Therefore, I cannot accept amendments Nos. 15 and 17.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  The Minister has gone a long way towards meeting the concern of the Opposition in relation to these amendments. Even though I have tabled amendments to section 5 (1) (d) and (f) I contend that the Minister must introduce regulations in the context of these two subsections, specifically to determine how a college can engage in research, consultancy and development work and provide such services in relation to [201] these matters as the governing body consider appropriate. The later subsection refers in essence to the establishment of limited liability companies to operate within this same area of research, consultancy and development work.

What is being offered here? I should like to know what exactly will be the shape of the regulations the Minister will lay down. I should like an undertaking from the Minister that, before the establishment date of the new Dublin Institute of Technology, the regulations which will pertain to section 5 (1) (d) and (f) will be published and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

I do not intend to go into the difficulties and pitfalls that could arise unless there are strong and clearly defined regulations here. Suffice it to say that there is, as I have mentioned, the business of discoveries of patenting and the question for instance, of what happens if a great deal of money is made on a particular R and D consultancy project by a campus company or, indeed, the opposite, if a great deal of money is lost because some R and D consultancy project comes off the rails. Who is responsible and who will pick up the tab at the end of the day? With limited liability companies the limited liability would be a protection for the college but, for instance, would it be intended that colleges would provide seed capital? All these areas need to be clarified and again I ask that before establishment day those regulations be published and laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  Let me ask the Minister to explain why he has been selective in section 5. Whereas he has been prepared to delete the term “subject to such conditions as the Minister may determine”, he is adamant in retaining it in subparagraphs (d) and (f). Do those provisions involve a great deal of financial output? Can he expand on the reasons he has been determined to retain the phrase in those subparagraphs and accept our amendments to the other sections?

[202]Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  It is the same procedure as in the Regional Technical Colleges Bill, and the Deputy should know the reasons for it. We can discuss that when we get to the individual sections.

Deputy O'Shea inquired as to what regulations would be in place. These would provide mainly for financial matters, for protection for the college and for the collapse of campus companies, and that is something that will be debated later on as well.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  When the Minister says that is something that will be debated later on as well, do I take it that on Report Stage of the Regional Technical Colleges Bill and the Dublin Institute of Technology Bill he will have more specific information to present to us?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Yes, I will try to be more specific.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  Let me record a welcome for the amendment to section 5 (1) (a) in particular. It is absolutely essential to the independence, future and status of an institute, particularly one of the level of the Dublin Institute of Technology, that they should be able to decide such issues as courses of study.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 10 is in the names of Deputies Higgins and Ahearn. Amendment No. 11 is an alternative. Amendments Nos. 12, 13, 22, 23, 24 and 70 are related, and amendment No. 14 is an alternative to amendment No. 13. I propose, accordingly, that amendments Nos. 10 to 14, inclusive, 22, 23, 24 and 70 be discussed le chéile. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I move amendment No. 10:

In page 5, subsection (1) (b), line 11, after “give” to insert “degrees,”.

Section 5 (1) (b) as at present phrased provides that the institute shall have the following functions: to confer, grants or [203] give diplomas, certificates or other educational qualifications — this is the crunch — other than degree awards. Deputy Ahearn and I propose by this amendment to specify that the institute would have the power to give degrees. Indeed, subsequently we propose that the word “other than degree awards” be deleted and that the institute be empowered to confer, grant or give degrees, diplomas, certificates or other educational awards.

We all know that over a number of years as the Dublin Institute of Technology evolved, they have given a range of qualifications which are internationally recognised — certificates and diplomas — and in the past number of years they have awarded degrees in liaison or in conjunction with, or by virtue of a very welcome relationship with, Trinity College, Dublin. One or other of the six colleges award the diploma and the diploma is then validated as a degree, having been cleared well in advance by the University of Dublin. This is a very welcome development indeed but I think the colleges themselves would be the first to acknowledge that the linkage has worked, certainly to the advantage of the Dublin Institute of Technology.

If we are going to develop the Dublin Institute of Technology further and are putting in place here a body of legislation that is going to allow for the future development of the Dublin Institute of Technology, we should go all the way and the power to confer degrees. The Dublin Institute of Technology have 7,700 wholetime third level students and 10,000 part-time students, and the college of music have 2,000 students. As we have said on previous sections, they have 5,000 apprentices and are now the second largest third level education institute in the State. They well and truly arrived.

The Dublin Institute of Technology have provided undergraduate education to the highest international standards as assessed by external monitoring and examination processes of the Academic Council. They have also provided tuition [204] and internal examinations on behalf of the professional bodies such as the Institute of Physics, the Royal College of Chemistry, the Institute of Food, Science and Technology, the Institute of Mathematics, and the Institute of Statisticians. The terminal examination and qualification of these professional bodies is of honours primary degree standard. The Dublin Institute of Technology have provided supervision of post-graduate research leading to the award of masters' degrees and doctorates. The Dublin Institute of Technology is structured in a manner similar to the technological universities and institutes which are found in mainland Europe, and in less than two weeks' time we hope to be in post-Maastricht Europe. We are seeking to dovetail with the technological standards of mainland Europe and, therefore, we should make ourselves aware of what applies there.

The legislation introduces an artificial barrier to the development of the Dublin Institute of Technology as a third level education institute by restricting to diplomas and certificates the level of award which can be granted. We cannot see why an institute which is now the second largest third level institute in the country, which has reached a proven high level of academic achievement, which is well on the way to becoming an institute capable of rubbing shoulders with the primary degree awarding institute in this country, cannot have awarding of degrees in its own right. We do not fully appreciate what type of mystique attached to the term “degree” as against “diploma” or “certificate” when the standard of induction, teaching and instruction and the examination levels are of a sufficiently high standard to be recognised internationally.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  I shall not reiterate the very logical and convincing arguments put forward by Deputy Higgins for acceptance of this amendment. It would be very difficult for the Minister to put up counter-arguments to the arguments put forward by Deputy Higgins. The proposal in our amendment would give [205] recognition to the fantastic work which has been done by the Dublin Institute of Technology. They have exploited every opportunity to provide degrees of the highest international standards in conjunction with other universities. We believe that the Dublin Institute of Technology are entitled to be given degree awarding powers at this stage.

I wish to refer to the Second Stage speech made by the then Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke. She did not rule out the possibility of giving this power to the Dublin Institute of Technology in the future. She accepted that there was a case for granting degree awarding status to the Dublin Institute of Technology. The only difference between this side of the House and the Minister at that time related to when the status would be granted to the Dublin Institute of Technology. She said that it may be done at a future date. We are asking that this status be conferred on the Dublin Institute of Technology now. If, based on the information available to us now, it is correct to confer this status on them in the future, I do not see why it should not be given to them now? My colleague, Deputy Jim Higgins, has put forward very convincing arguments for acceptance of this amendment by the Minister. Our proposal would give due recognition to colleges who deserve it. As I said, the then Minister for Education did not rule out the possibility of conferring this status on them in the future. We agree with the views of the former Minister but we believe this status should be conferred on the Dublin Institute of Technology now under this legislation and not in the future. Unless the Minister can put forward very convincing counter-arguments he should accept this amendment.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I support the points made by the previous speakers. I am not going to repeat the arguments put forward by other Deputies. I wish to refer to the Minister's amendment No. 22 which seeks to amend section 5 (2) (a). If I recall correctly, both former Ministers for Education were under the impression that degree conferring status could be provided for under the omnibus section [206] 5 (2) (a). Obviously this has not proven possible. As a result amendment No. 22 has been put down to this section. I would be much happier with the amendment if it did not contain the word “may”, which I do not think is definite. It means the Minister of the day may or may not give the Dublin Institute of Technology the function of awarding degrees, post-graduate degrees and honorary awards.

The validating body for diplomas, certificates and degrees awarded by regional technical colleges is the National Council for Educational Awards. Up to now, the Dublin Institute of Technology have conferred their own diplomas and certificates and, as Deputy Higgins pointed out, their degrees have been validated under a special arrangement with Trinity College. I should like to stress that in terms of education and the awards given for the courses of study pursued in the component colleges of the Dublin Institute of Technology, the academic freedom which should be available to the Dublin Institute of Technology is denied them because degrees are explicitly excluded under section 5 (1) (b). This provision which takes from the status of the college should be amended. The Minister may argue that amendment No. 22 proposes that the Minister of the day will have the wherewithal to grant to the Dublin Institute of Technology the function of conferring graduate degrees and honorary awards.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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