International Educator - May/June 2012 - 29
ruairi Quinn, Irish Minister for education and Skills
higher education system. Are these students an important source of funds for the higher education system in Ireland?
QUINN: Yes, we believe they are. They’re not going
irish department of education and skills
to solve our problem, and we can’t use them as just a cash cow, excuse the phrase. That’s because they’re coming for quality and they’re discerning consumers of higher education. But, we have a lot to offer, and that’s recognized; the fact that we’re an English speaking country and the quality of our universities and institutes of technology are generally well-recognized. There are 126 individual educational bilateral agreements between the Irish institutions and the Chinese educational institutions. This spring I’m going to China for an extended visit. It will all be focused on confirming those relationships, enlarging them, consolidating them. We’re talking about Irish degrees being delivered to Chinese students, part of which will be delivered in China and part of which will be delivered in Ireland.
per capita education, efficiency, and reputation among employers and academics. How much effect has the financial crisis in Ireland and Europe had upon Ireland’s higher education standards and achievements since then, and how much pain has the system endured?
QUINN: The system at higher level has seen a re-
IE: The 2009 ECOFIN report painted a very flattering picture of Irish higher education by
duction in core funding and, by and large, to their credit, it has absorbed an awful lot of that reduction without diminution in quality or, indeed, in quantity. But there is general recognition of a developing crisis in the funding of the third level sector. Currently, the outcomes are still very positive. We did drop in the international rankings, but when I got in behind the statistics, the critical factor in the drop was not the ratio of academic staff to pupil or funding per pupil or those types of objectives or measurements, because they hadn’t dropped as dramatically as the rankings had. The key factor, we are told by academics who study this in Ireland, was the great damage done to our international reputation due to the banking bust and the housing bubble that led to the country going into receivership with the European Union.
M AY + J U N E . 12 InternatIonal educator