Innovation Right Here - Dept. of Education is Wrong

I usually get both of Ireland’s daily national papers to my email inbox every morning. I think it’s very important to catch up on the latest news; as I think you are more informed and have conversation pieces to talk to people (for those awkward silences where “Ye the weather is terrible” just won’t do). So I was highly informed when I read this piece: DCU head hits out at ‘out-of-date’ O’Keeffe.

“There is a tension between the traditional expectation that universities will primarily teach students, and the more recent requirement for universities to underpin economic development and attract corporate research and development into Ireland . . . not to mention the role of universities as agencies of cultural regeneration and of tackling disadvantage and structural poverty,” said Prof von Prondzynski.

I couldn’t agree more. I think it is disgraceful that students who try to improve themselves; their standard of living and their community by getting a great education are penalised with higher fees. The equal access to education that the state is trying to promote will be further harmed by an increase in fees. It is [relatively] cheap to go to college as it is; and still the economic underclass are under-represented.

Nothing is for free don’t get me wrong… But these students turn in to some of the hardest and most innovative workers in the world; and most get a really good salary to match; which means they pay the most tax on average of any socio-economic class. People in the super-rich category can afford to off-shore; not so for these professional people. People in the lowest socio-economic classes pay the standard rate of 20% as they’d earn under the average industrial wage (about 30,000) and rightly so. So that just leaves the ‘higher’ if-you-will middle class (although all terms are relative; I don’t agree with the labels personally); which pay disproportionate amount. So the Governments policy seems to discourage many of these people from actually educating themselves and getting a good job. This shocking tidbit sums up the government:

“I think he (Batt O’Keeffe) has a view of how universities should operate which is fairly far removed from what my view would be. For example, he raised the issue of whether we do too much research,” said Prof von Prondzynski (Dublin City University Head)

Too much research? Oh my god; I actually cannot believe I read that. Maybe I should write to Batt O’Keefe and remind him what research gets you… Just in the Tech field alone (which I know most about); research is everything. The Internet? Check, American Military Research (Arpanet). The Web? Check, CERN Particle Physics Laboratory. Graphical Interfaces? Check, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Not to mention the massive contribution by Bell Labs/AT&T to Unix etc. These are only ones right off the top of my head. All I can say is I hope 3rd Level (as Colleges are known in Ireland) gets their own government minister (and department) and is free of this man: Batt O’ Keefe and his 20th century Department of Education.