At its meeting today, the NUI Senate considered the Minister for Education and Science’s announcement that he intends to dissolve the National University of Ireland (NUI).
The Senate expressed regret at the Minister’s decision and in particular at the lack of consultation with the Chancellor or with the Presidents of the constituent universities before yesterday’s announcement of the decision.
Had they been consulted, the Chancellor and Presidents would have emphasised that the abolition of the National University of Ireland is not necessary for the achievement of the quality assurance objectives that the Minister is pursuing or for the establishment of an amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance agency.
The Senate remains convinced that the dissolution of the National University of Ireland would be damaging to Irish higher education. They draw attention to the contribution of the National University of Ireland, in educational, cultural and economic terms. NUI has been in existence for over one hundred years. It has over 250,000 graduates in Ireland and throughout the world. Its name is well established. Its degrees enjoy a high level of recognition nationally and internationally. Approximately 7,000 international students studying in NUI member institutions make a significant contribution to the universities and the economy, in fees paid and money spent. On graduation they act as valuable ambassadors for Ireland overseas.
The NUI degree is long established and has a deserved reputation for academic excellence. It is of considerable importance both for Irish students and in attracting international students to Ireland and must be protected. The Minister’s announcement, coming as abruptly as it did, has caused understandable anxiety among students and graduates. The Senate is pleased to note that it is not the Minister’s intention to change the names of the NUI constituent universities. The NUI institutions will be taking steps to reassure graduates, students and prospective students that the status of NUI degrees remains unchanged by the Minister’s announcement.
The Chancellor with the Presidents and Registrars will give further consideration to the implications of the Minister’s decision. An early meeting will be sought with the Minister to discuss the position of the National University of Ireland in the context of the achievement of quality assurance imperatives, institutional coherence and the preservation of a resource which is of continuing value to the universities and to Ireland in general.