The new programme is now out. Nothing directly relevant to 3rd level appears under ‘Priority Legislation for Publication This session’ or ‘Bills that are expected to undergo Pre-Legislative Scrutiny This Session’. Under ‘Other’ appear:
- Higher Education (Reform) Bill – To modernise the legislative framework underpinning the governance and functions of the Higher Education Authority and the governance structures of the universities – Heads are currently being drafted
- Qualifications and Quality Assurance Amendment) Bill – To amend the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 to address some issues that have arisen regarding the scope of QQI’s responsibilities in relation to recognition of awards and regulation of private and voluntary providers, to ensure adequate protection of enrolled learners where providers discontinue a programme, and to give greater authority to Institutes of Technology to award Level 9 qualifications – Heads expected end 2016
- Universities (Amendment) Bill – To ensure compliance with government guidelines on remuneration, allowances, pensions and staffing numbers in the University sector – Heads approved in October 2012 – Drafting underway
The last of these seems to be taking a suspiciously long time to draft, especially for such a short bill! Far be it from me to suggest that the government has absolutely no intention of progressing it (preferring to leave it as a sort of scarecrow to frighten university presidents), but other explanations seem thin on the ground.
Finally, ‘Bills on Dáil Order Paper’ notes that the Technological Universities Bill 2015 is ‘Awaiting Committee’. It is also perhaps awaiting some sort of unexpected political consensus, as there is concerted opposition to some of the mergers it contemplates, opposition which the government does not have the majority to simply override.