‘Programme for Partnership’ and third level

IrelandProgramme for Partnership Document agreed between Fine Gael and Independents – Chapter 10, Education (extracts). The full document is here.

“We are committed to investing an extra €500m in education by 2021 through measures including childcare subventions, HSE Speech and Language Therapists, to bring the number up to 1,102 (a 25% increase) additional National Educational Psychologists (NEPs) to bring the total to 238 (a 25% increase), reducing pupil teacher ratio in junior and senior infants, annual increases in primary and secondary capitation rates, additional teachers CPD, a new School Excellence Fund, pay increases in accordance with the Lansdowne Road Agreement and extra third level investment.”

“We will benchmark entrepreneurial activity in Irish higher education and work with the Higher Education Authority to ensure an ambitious and implementable plan to identify and address skill gaps, ICT and STEM need.”

“We support the creation of Technological Universities, linked to industry and with enormous impact on our capacity to create and retain jobs in regions. We will implement the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education, published in December 2015. We will support an increase in the number of flexible courses and opportunities available; giving people the opportunity to attend courses part time, during evenings, in the summer and at weekends. We support the introduction of mid-degree ‘sandwich year’ courses, whereby students spend their third year of university working in industry.”

“We will deliver a step change in our capacity to educate, develop, deploy and retain talent, setting targets for critical skill provision and competitive funding models will encourage their delivery in partnership with enterprise. In order to achieve this we will:
•Create financial incentives for the third level system to respond to skills gaps
•Invite industry to partner in the delivery elements of the curricula at third and forth levels
•Create a strong system for the delivery and renewal of skills in newly emerging technical areas (including apprenticeships, traineeships, and in service progression).”

“Significant exchequer resources are invested in both current and capital spending in the Higher Education Sector, following the publication of the Expert Group report on the Future Funding of the Higher Education Sector, we will propose that the relevant cross party Oireachtas Committee review its recommendations and outline a proposed funding plan for this sector. We will propose an examination of the efficiency and operation of SUSI in parallel with this report, including the potential of providing SUSI liaison personnel in each region.”

“We support new flexibility for universities within strict budgets, transparency and new accountability agreements, to set their own staffing needs, hire the best lecturers, automate routine processes and adapt work practices to staff and student needs. By allowing universities more flexibilities and ‘earned autonomy’ they can prioritise and address issues themselves for the improvement of their institution, and the creation of a new relationship with students.”

“We will also commission an independent examination to identify the supports and barriers to accessing higher education for lone parents, and examine measures to increase participation. The recommendations of this report are to be published in advance of Budget 2017.”

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