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29 May 2024  

NUI Chancellor addresses ASTI


Speaking at the Centenary Conference of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland held in O’Reilly Hall in UCD, NUI Chancellor Dr Maurice Manning congratulated the ASTI on the celebration of its centenary – “For an organisation to reach a hundred years of existence says something about its durability and the importance of its role and certainly ASTI has been a highly influential body in Irish second-level education since its foundation”. He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to leaders of ASTI for their significant contribution to the Senate of the University.

Commenting on the current economic difficulties facing Ireland, and drawing from research findings in recent ESRI and OECD reports, Dr Manning pointed to the lifetime advantages in terms of job prospects, income, health and social wellbeing enjoyed by those with higher levels of education over those leaving the educational system at an earlier stage. He concluded that: “we must look to our education system to help us to achieve social recovery and that a national objective of enabling the highest possible proportion of our population to progress to the highest levels must be the target”. He drew attention to the positive impact of initiatives undertaken in recent years by the NUI institutions to address social exclusion and educational disadvantage. The Chancellor expressed the hope that the recently launched HEAR (Higher Education Access Route), and DARE (Disabled Access Route to Education) schemes would enhance the contribution of the higher education sector to social recovery.

Concluding his address the Chancellor said “These are dangerous times for the education sector with serious threats lurking round every corner. Changes which are advocated need to be rigorously scrutinised. While the crisis in the public finances must be addressed, in this time of crisis we should not be panicked into making short-term damaging changes to our educational infrastructure.” Referring specifically to the proposal in the McCarthy Report that NUI should be abolished, ostensibly on cost-saving grounds, Dr Manning said that “this proposal does not stand up to impartial scrutiny. It would not save money and would seriously damage a national institution which, like ASTI, has served the country well for a century.”

Full text of the address can be found here