Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Trinity Provost Prendergast's Speech on Irish Higher Education

Provost Prendergast deserves a lot of credit for speaking the truth. On the introduction of fees, he said, “We have no right to mortgage future generations by dodging this issue. They will not thank us. And we have no right to prevent those who want a quality education from paying for it if they can afford to do so. The reality is that if the best students can’t get a top quality higher education here, they will go abroad for it and they would be right to do so.”

Even more important are his remarks on autonomy: "We need to release some of the constraints acting on higher education. To compete globally, I need to have flexibility and decision-making powers, the same flexibility that other presidents of leading universities can count on, particularly with regard to hiring and promotions.
At the moment I need to get permission for what I do.”

Prof. Prendergast is right: we cannot have a higher education system that is treated like a regular state bureaucracy and expect it to compete with good international universities.