LAUNCH OF OECD REPORT ON HIGHER EDUCATION  POLICY IN IRELAND

  • DIT welcomes OECD focus on twin objectives of quality of provision and equality of access

Dublin 17 September 2004:  Following publication of the OECD Review of Higher Education Policy in Ireland, Dublin Institute of Technology has welcomed the focus the report places on quality of provision and equality of access.  Commenting on the report, the President of DIT, Professor Brian Norton, said: "Clearly prioritising these twin objectives is vital to enable higher education in Ireland to move into the top 10% of OECD countries.  DIT has itself invested considerable resources in establishing a robust quality assurance programme, and in developing wide-ranging access programmes aimed at achieving social inclusion in higher education.  We are pleased that the international group of experts has identified these areas as key to national development and clearly indicates the need to focus on funding issues in the higher education sector to enable national goals to be achieved."

The OECD report makes a total of 52 recommendations, addressing the role of higher education in society, how it is structured and its strategic management for the future.  DIT welcomed the recommendation of greater autonomy for all third level institutions, within a policy framework determined by the Minister and the Department of Education & Science.  Professor Norton said such autonomy will encourage and enable individual institutions to respond more flexibly to the challenges nationally and globally. 

DIT's Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Frank McMahon noted that the report acknowledges the unique status of DIT.  "The report confirms DIT's unique role as a comprehensive higher education institution, of significant size and range, with degree-awarding powers from certificate to doctoral level.  Currently 37% of our provision is unique in Ireland and this highlights the importance for us to link ourselves closely with the development of Dublin City and surrounding areas, but also to focus clearly on national priorities. The acknowledgement of the need to fund part-time education is also very important to DIT which is currently the largest provider of part-time programmes in the country.  Overall, the flexibility proposed in the OECD Report, coupled with the pending relocation of DIT to a new single campus at Grangegorman, will enhance our ability to respond appropriately and rapidly to those regional and national priorities. "

Professor Norton said that in relation to issues of funding, the report acknowledges that the sector is experiencing real funding difficulties.  "Recognising the clear need to increase funding in the sector and creating a common funding body for all higher education, as well as common quality assurance, are essential steps to addressing this vital issue in a coherent manner."

In conclusion, Professor Norton said "DIT welcomed the opportunity to make our submission to the OECD panel and many of the issues we raised in our presentation to them are addressed in this Report.  We look forward now to engaging in the discussions that will follow."

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