July 2014 E-Bulletin

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Education NewsICT in Schools
Education News
Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Finland and Denmark have done it and now the UK is following suit. These countries have all updated their primary school curriculum to include ICT (Information and Communications Technology) as a subject and it’s time that Ireland did the same, say ICT experts. Ireland is currently a global hub for technology companies.

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Featured Educator NUI Galway Adult Education
Featured Educator
NUI Galway is one of Ireland’s leading centres of academia and has established a well earned reputation of high quality education. The college offers a large selection of programmes for adult learners, postgraduates and mature students.

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Featured Courses
Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology (Level 8)

Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology (Level 8) , Dublin City

This programme will appeal to any Graduates with an interest in psychology. It will also act as a bridging gap to those who want to continue on to the competitive Higher Diploma in Psychology courses available in Irish Universities such as UCD, Trinity and UCC.

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Journalism Media Diploma

Journalism Media Diploma, Dublin City

The Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies (ICM) will commence for 20 weeks, 6 months in total. Classes are held off Dame Street, Dublin 2, one evening per week. The Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies is a highly rewarding, challenging and fascinating course , covering both print and broadcast journalism. The Diploma is divided into five main units..

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Category Focus Management
Featured Category
If you are considering a career in management or perhaps feel that you are ready to take on more responsibility in your current position then a management course could help you learn some valuable techniques and set you in the right direction. There are a wide array of courses ranging from project management, event management, HR management and more. For more details view our Management Training courses page at
Featured Article Popular PLC Courses
Featured Article
Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are full-time programmes available to students who have completed their Leaving Certificate as well as adults returning to full-time education. PLCs are typically run in vocational schools or in voluntary community, comprehensive and secondary schools. Aimed mainly at students who wish to develop technical or vocational skills in order to enter employment or continue to higher education, PLCs typically lead to QQI awards at NFQ level 5 and NFQ level 6.

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College Open Days
Open days can be a great way of evaluating a college and getting a flavour of what you can expect in term of facilities, location and class tutors. See a selection of upcoming open days and open evenings on

College Open Days ››

Upcoming Open Days, BSM Building, Parkmore Business Park West, Galway
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Apprenticeship Council to be Established

apprenticeship councilA new Apprenticeship Council has been announced which will develop the area of training and on the job experience.

To coincide with the announcement, an Apprenticeship Implementation Plan has also been published, following a review of apprenticeship in Ireland, chaired by Kevin Duffy, Chairperson of the Labour Court. (View Apprenticeship Implementation plan here).

An apprenticeship is the recognised training involved in becoming a craftsman in Ireland. Some of the main craft trades include mechanics, electrical, plastering, plumbing and carpentry. These trades have been designated by SOLAS and are within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system.

Apprenticeships are demand driven educational and training programmes. Based in the classroom and the workplace, the programmes are aimed at developing the skills necessary for the needs of the labour market. Apprentices are paid an Industrial Apprentice Wage Rate, which may vary, depending on the employer and the occupation.

The first aim of the newly formed Apprenticeship Council will be to call for proposals from industries for new apprenticeships. The council with then submit the proposals to the Minister for a decision on what new apprenticeships should be introduced.

As well as this, the curricula for the current apprenticeships will be reviewed and five trades are currently being reviewed by SOLAS (Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry and Joinery, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics and Metal Fabrication). Although this process has been slow, it is hoped that reviews for the remaining trades will be faster.

The Irish labour market has seen huge changes in recent years and there has been criticism that apprenticeships have not adapted to meet the new needs and job opportunities of the current climate. However, Minister Quinn said that he is aware of the importance of the modernisation of the apprenticeship system and is hopeful there will be new apprenticeships in areas where there are new job opportunities in two years time.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Information and Communications Technology in Schools

ict in schoolsIsrael, New Zealand, Australia, Finland and Denmark have done it and now the UK is following suit. These countries have all updated their primary school curriculum to include ICT as a subject and it’s time that Ireland did the same, say ICT experts.

Ireland is currently a global hub for technology companies. Despite the economic downturn of the past few years, the country remains the second biggest exporter of IT services in the world. Ireland has attracted big names such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter and EMC and the sector accounts for approximately €70bn in Irish exports.

However, the current shortage of skilled Irish programmers means that technology companies are recruiting employees from overseas. According to Padraig Flanagan, President of the National Association of Principals, the country now needs to provide a competent Irish workforce and education and training must start in the classroom.

Writing recently in the Irish Independent, Mr. Flanagan says that the Irish workforce needs to adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of the ICT sector. He states that there are many job opportunities available and that the next step, to ensure that there will be competent Irish graduates available, is to make ICT a Leaving Cert subject.

A recent Forfas report predicts that there will be a rise of 5% each year in the tech sector in Ireland for the next four years at least. This means that there will be 44,000 vacancies.

Mr. Flanagan suggests that putting coding on the Leaving Cert will put Ireland in the same league as the UK system, which will soon be introducing coding as an obligatory subject in all state schools.

Coding is a universal language used in all nationalities, which makes in an important contribution to the current digital era. However, there are challenges as to how it can be included on the Leaving Cert. Due to the need for highly trained teachers and high tech equipment; it would not be cheap to do.

According to Mr. Flanagan, this is not a reason to avoid teaching it. He recommends its introduction should begin as soon as possible if Ireland is to make the students of the 21st century ready to meet the technological demands of the future.

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Choosing a Springboard Course

springboard coursesRuairí Quinn, the Minister for Education and Skills, and Ciarán Cannon T.D., have recently announced that 6,100 new free higher education places are to be made available, through Springboard, to jobseekers in Ireland.

Springboard provides places for jobseekers on a range of part-time courses that lead to awards at certificate, degree and postgraduate level. Most courses last one year or less. The courses are generally free to jobseekers and specifically target areas where there are job opportunities.

This year Springboard has offered a choice of 171 free courses in 38 different colleges around the country. 21 of the courses on offer are in the area of ICT and are aimed at giving people who may have trained in another area, a chance to learn the skills needed to work in the growing ICT sector.

Speaking about the decision, Mr. Quinn said that the biggest challenge facing Ireland is getting people back into employment, which is what the Springboard programme aims to do. He said that work placements are being offered this year on nearly all Springboard courses in an effort to improve jobseekers’ employment prospects.

The Minister said that the programme is targeting areas of growth such as high end manufacturing, ICT and international financial services, as those areas currently offer the best job opportunities and have a potential for growth.

Since its establishment in 2011, 16, 429 jobseekers have participated in the Springboard programme which received a €54 million investment from the Exchequer. The Government plan on spending a further €25 million on it in 2014/15.

Ciarán Cannon said that one of Springboard’s core features has been the evaluation of the outcomes, such as how people get on in their chosen course and whether they get a job on its completion. Minister Cannon said he was happy that the results showed 94% of participants would recommend it to other job seekers and that more than 50% of the class of 2013 were in sustainable employment or self-employed within six months of finishing their course, with some courses even reported an employment rate of 90%.

The Higher Education Authority has put together a trend analysis to coincide with the announcement. It shows that the majority of applicants are male, between the age of 25 and 39, long-term unemployed and have higher levels of educational qualifications year on year.

The results also showed that more than 6 out of 10 participants complete their course and of those who leave the course early; a third do so due to getting a job.

Applications for Springboard course can be made online at Applicants are required to register with the website and enter a online application form. To search for a course simply click the ‘Search Courses’ button on the website’s homepage. Application deadlines are typically in August or early September but vary for each course. Dates are clearly stated on each individual course description page.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Are Internships Exploiting Graduates?

are internships exploiting graduates?A recent report by the Sunday Business Post has shown that graduates’ salaries are the lowest they have been in the last ten years. Between 2007 and 2014 the average salary has decreased by 11.7%, dropping from €26,919 to €23,777.

Joe O’Connor, president of the Union of Students in Ireland, has said that the findings, complied by the Central Bank for their report titled ‘On the Slide: Salary Scales for New Graduates”, highlight the frustrating situation that many students are finding themselves in at the moment.

O’Connor criticised Ireland’s current “Internship Culture” and said that young people who are leaving college with good degrees expecting to be treated as an full member of the workforce are instead having to go through an internship that pays low wages.

O’Connor said that internships, coupled with high levels of youth unemployment after the recession, have created an employer friendly market that is not fair on qualified students. According to O’Connor, government backed internships such as JobBridge are damaging pay and conditions in the job market and reducing wages.

JobBridge is a scheme that provides work experience for interns for a six or nine month period for an allowance of €50 a week on top of existing social welfare entitlement. It provides up to 8,500 work experience placements, however, O’Connor feels that schemes such as this have contributed to the current ten year low in graduate pay.

According to the report findings, architecture was worst hit; with a reduction of 31% in wages, reducing the average wage from €31,500 in 2007 to just €21,448 this year.

O’Connor said that an area where there might be great opportunities now, may offer few jobs in the future due to the pace of change internationally in the jobs market. He also stated that third level education is as important now for getting a job as second level education was years ago. This has been demonstrated by the fact that 50,000 third level graduates filled the 58,000 jobs that were created in 2013.

The study also found that Arts graduate’s salaries have dropped by 19%, with a decrease from €24,445 in 2007 to €19,747 in 2014. Veterinary and medical students have also seen a drop of 11% and while researchers said that wages have also decreased in other countries including France and Britain, they have not dropped to the same extent as here in Ireland.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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ETB Changeover Suffers Setbacks

education and training boardsIn July 2013, 33 Voluntary Educational Committees (VECs) were replaced by 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs). An ETB is an education authority responsible for education and training, youth work and a range of other issues related to creating a suitably skilled workforce.

The main functions of an ETB are:
– To establish and maintain recognised schools, education training facilities and centres for education
-To plan for and provide education and training that includes education and training for the purpose of employment
-To support youth work services

The sixteen ETBs are:
– City of Dublin ETB
– Donegal ETB
– Kerry ETB
– Cork ETB
– Galway and Roscommon ETB
– Limerick and Clare ETB
– Cavan and Monaghan ETB
– Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB
– Kildare and Wicklow ETB
– Kilkenny and Carlow ETB
– Laois and Offaly ETB
– Longford and Westmeath ETB
– Louth and Meath ETB

While the official changeover took place last year, progress has been slow and many of the ETBS do not yet have a website. There have been problems with the changover process with some workers in the ETB’s taking industrial action over failures to reach agreement on transfer of services from FAS to the new further education and training authority; Solas. This action followed the lack of a cohesive planning structure from management dealing with issues such as, filling of vacancies, workloads, and the absorption of Solas staff and structures. The action will lead to delays in further progression of the Education and Training Boards. Discussing the action, IMPACT official Pat Bolger said that “The union remains available to negotiate, but we now need management to move on these important issues”.

With increased responsibility, compared to the previous VECs, and a decrease in the amount of centres; the country awaits to see if the 16 ETBs can complete the difficult metamorphosis and fulfil the needs of Ireland’s knowledge based economy with the provision of an effective, fully functioning education system.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Should Leaving Cert Students Have More Access to Technology?

computers used for leaving certThe Minister for State Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, has said that Leaving Certificate students should be given the option to use a computer when sitting their exams. Mr. Cannon said that there is no flexibility in the current system, which he feels is doing a disservice to those students who feel more comfortable on a computer.

The junior minister for education is currently developing a five-year strategy on digital learning and teaching and said that while Ireland has developed examination software for overseas markets, he would like to see that being used here as part of the Junior Cycle reform.

Speaking at the recent Excited festival of digital learning in Dublin, hosted by Mr. Cannon, Dr. Aoibheann Gibbons, director of research development in UCD, said that promoting digital learning and then having students write for three hours in an exam was a contradiction. Dr. Gibbons said that writing for that amount of time was not psychologically or physically natural and that it was asking students to think in a linear way which is unlike how they think when using a computer.

A recent study carried out in the UK by BIC stationery company, showed that 39% of students fear that their handwriting will be illegible to examiners. It also showed that students worry about this more than they worry about forgetting information on the day. The study also revealed that two thirds of teachers marking exams have found poor handwriting has prevented them giving marks a student would have deserved had their handwriting been clear.

82% of the teachers surveyed admitted that they were concerned students are losing traditional skills due to an increased reliance on technology. 89% of students said that they use a laptop or computer to revise and 20% said that they use a tablet device. Over half of the students surveyed said they felt that taking notes using a pen and paper was outdated.

Handwriting expert, Margaret White, says that lack of practice can mean problems when it comes to writing on the day of exams. Bad habits such as holding the pen too tightly or leaning to heavily on the paper means that many students complain of aches and pains in their hands and arms after exams.

However, while two thirds of students said that they used laptops for revision, 85% admitted to getting distracted by the internet, with 58% of people citing social media as the biggest distraction.

Mr. Cannon’s digital learning strategy will emphasis new technology as well as teacher training and he said that these would require a significant investment which will allow future students a chance to succeed. It remains to be seen if keypads will replace pen and paper during exam time but in future this may be a logical route to take for the tech savvy youths of tomorrow.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Rising Rents to Affect Dublin Students

student accomodation ratesFour Dublin colleges have confirmed that they will be increasing their rent for the 2014/2015 academic year. Trinity College, UCD, DCU and Griffith College all provide on-campus accommodation and have said that their new fees are in keeping with current private rental sector in the city.

The cost of renting accommodation in UCD will increase by nearly 13%. Where before, a year’s rent in one of the on-campus Belgrove apartments would have cost €4,470, it will now be €5,050 and in Roebuck Hill, also an on-campus residence, there will be an increase in rent from €5,540 to €6,260 per annum.

A UCD spokesman has said that fees had remained almost the same for the past four years, with an increase of 2% every year since 2012. The university said that an estate agent was commissioned to give them a report on the current rental market in order to help them find a suitable rent.

Griffith College Dublin has announced an increase 9% for their accommodation fees. The college said that the increase was essential in order for the college to cover the rising costs of running their accommodation, which is not exclusively for their own students but for students in any college in Dublin.

A spokeswoman for the college said that the college found it necessary to increase the rent for Griffith Halls of Residence due to the Government withdrawing previous tax incentives, which had been the basis on which the accommodation was built. The college also stated that they undertook research in the Dublin rental market and decided on an average weekly increase of €12. The fee includes rent, services and utilities, student councillor services, security staff, parking and access to facilities on campus such as the library and the gym.

Trinity College announced an expected increase of 4% in their rental fees and said that the rise will be in context with the general private rental costs of Dublin. DCU have also announced a rise of 3%, the first rise in prices in seven years. DCU’s on-campus postgraduate accommodation, as well as residences in College Park and Hampstead will see a 3% rise, while fees in Larkfield, will remain the same. DCU stated that the increase was necessary to facilitate refurbishment.

The rising cost of rents and the cuts to student grants is not a good combination and Joe O’Connor, President of the Union of Students Ireland, said that the increases coupled with the lack of options in the rental market is a nightmare for students. Mr. O’Connor also said that the students from outside of Dublin opting to commute due to the high cost of rent will suffer the most.

Mr. O’Connor said the union had to speak to the Department of Housing last year and that properties under Nama were suggested to help supply the demand. He also said that government intervention may be necessary to deal with the situation.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Win a Free Course

free courseImage Fitness Training are currently running a competition offering 3 free fitness training courses in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

These courses are worth €2400 and run for 17 weeks. The Course on offer is the NEFPC Certificate in Fitness Instruction, Group Instruction and Personal Training.

To be in with a chance to get your fitness career up and running with a top class qualification, click on the following link to send your details and enter the competition.


View course details on –

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Popular PLC Courses

popular plc coursesPost Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are full-time programmes available to students who have completed their Leaving Certificate as well as adults returning to full-time education. PLCs are typically run in vocational schools or in voluntary community, comprehensive and secondary schools. Aimed mainly at students who wish to develop technical or vocational skills in order to enter employment or continue to higher education, PLCs typically lead to QQI awards at NFQ level 5 and NFQ level 6.

There is a vast variety of courses to choose from and below are some of the most popular:

  • PLC courses in childcare are hugely popular and there is a generous selection to choose from, with childcare courses available in locations all over the country. Courses such as Childcare Supervision, Childcare Management, Childcare with Special Needs and Childcare with Montessori are just some of the courses that are offered in colleges such as Tralee Community College, Sallynoggin Community College and Cork College of Commerce. Most courses result in a NFQ level 5 or 6 on successful completion and provide the student with the skills to work in a range of different childcare settings such as crèche, Montessori, nanny or supervisors.
    View Childcare PLC Courses on
  • Pre-nursing PLCs are ideal for those wishing to pursue a career in nursing. In these courses, offered in locations such as Cavan Institute, Central College Limerick and Dun Laoghaire Further Institute of Education, students receive an introduction to all aspects of the nursing profession and most result in a level 5 NFQ, allowing for the continuation on to further studies. Dental Nursing PLCs are also available in Cavan Institute and Marino College of Further Education.
    View Pre-Nursing PLC Courses on
  • Hair and Beauty PLCs are a popular choice for many and there are plenty of courses to choose from, including Introduction to Hairdressing FETAC level 5 and Professional Hairdressing; both of which are taught at St. Louis Community School, Mayo. Other courses such as Beauty Therapy in Bray Institute of Further Education and Beauty and Holistic Therapies in Drogheda Institute of Further Education are also on offer. These courses are ideal for those looking for a career in the beauty industry and provide students with an NFQ level 4, 5 or 6 qualification on successful completion.
    View Hair and Beauty PLC Courses on
  • Engineering PLCs are ideal for preparing students for further studies in the field of engineering, including jobs such as an electrician, plumber, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and an electronic technician. The courses result in either a NFQ level 5 or 6 qualification and are available in St. Kevin’s College Crumlin, Wexford Vocational College and Listowel Community College to name a few.
  • There are plenty of PLCs in computers to choose from. The choice includes Business and Computers, Multimedia and Computers, Accounting and Computer applications and many more. Courses provide either a NFQ level 5 or 6 on completion and give students a solid foundation and skills to allow them to continue their education or, in some cases, enter employment. Castlerea Community School, Stillorgan College of Further Education and Sligo College of Further Education are just some of the providers.
    View Computer PLC courses on

With over 1,000 courses available in 229 centres nationwide, there is something to suit everyone when it comes to choosing a further education (PLC) course.

Fiona McBennett

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Education NewsPaper Versus Computer Screens
Education News
Computers and the internet play a huge part in learning nowadays. Online courses, online lecture notes for students and research material for essays are just some of the reasons behind the rise of computers in education. But is our increased use of computers affecting our quality of learning? Would we be better sticking to traditional books and paper? Researchers at the Children’s Digital Media Centre in LA set out to answer these questions in a recent series of studies and the results were interesting.

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Featured Educator Malahide Community School
Featured Educator
Malahide Community School is situated just outside the beautiful village of Malahide. The college caters for 1,200 second level students pupils. The school also offers adult education classes and has an extensive adult education programme which runs on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7.30 to 9.30p.m.

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Featured Courses
Business Management

Business Management, Nationwide

This distance learning course equips participants with comprehensive skills to improve their organisational and people management abilities. Students will learn how to: (1) organise company structures/teams, (2) complete internal and external organisation reviews, (3) effectively lead and manage staff, (4) manage their time more effectively, and (5) learn how to be more organised as Managers.

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Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness

Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness, Dublin City

This course is open to anybody who wants to attain a professional qualification in fitness instruction and personal training. The qualification is awarded by the University of Limerick and it is the only fitness qualification in Ireland that is university accredited. It is also recognised by the European Health and Fitness Association as well as being the only fitness qualification on the Irish National Qualification Framework.

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Category Focus Personal Development
Featured Category
A course in Personal Development can be of benefit in both personal and professional aspects of life and there are many topics included in this category. From assertiveness training to communications skills, from CBT skills to stress awareness and management. If you think you could benefit from learning more about any of these areas then check out our Personal Development Category Page for more details.
Featured Article Postgraduate Study Options
Featured Article
A postgraduate course is a qualification after a degree, such as a higher diploma or a masters. The Postgraduate Applications Centre ( website allows students to make applications for postgraduate programmes at higher level education institutions across Ireland. The website links to many third level institutions, including UCC, NUI Galway and DCU, and offers applications to courses such as Higher Diploma in Midwifery and Public Health Nursing.

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College Open Days
Open days can be a great way of evaluating a college and getting a flavour of what you can expect in term of facilities, location and class tutors. See a selection of upcoming open days and open evenings on

College Open Days ››

Upcoming Open Days
upcoming courses
distance learning courses
Pitman Training, BSM Building, Parkmore Business Park, Galway
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ITs Impress in New Education Ranking System

college rankingsStudents currently navigating their way through the vast array of third level options will be glad to know that a new online tool has been devised to help them through the process. After almost eight years of design and planning, the U-Multirank, was launched recently by the European Commission and will allow students and parents to compare the strengths and weaknesses of over 850 colleges and universities worldwide.

Sponsored by the EU, U-Multirank aims to overcome commercial rankings, which have been heavily criticised for producing selective information that in many cases has been doctored. Through this new ranking system the power will return to the students and allow them to make choices on the basis of what matters.

Ellen Hazelhorn, director of research at DIT, says that many rankings are misleading to students and that this new system will provide more useful information that will assist students in their choices. Although other evaluation tools have been introduced in recent years, the U-Multirank differs in that it allows for comparisons across areas of expertise and across borders.

The U-Multirank works by judging the institutions in 30 criteria with grades ranging from A (excellent) to E (poor). Data was taken from existing sources and combined with results from a further survey of the institutions that agreed to be a part of this first phase of the scheme.

Many universities around the world chose not to participate, including UCD and TCD. Four Irish universities (NUI Galway, UCC, DCU and University of Limerick) took part and five ITs (Dublin, Tallaght, Galway-Mayo, Letterkenny and Cork).

The findings of the system produced some interesting results. According to the U-Multirank, many of the ITs have outperformed the country’s universities. Under the categories of citation rate, number of publications, top-cited papers and international joint publications, TCD scored an A in all, UCD received two A’s and two B’s, DCU and A and three C’s and DIT two B’s and one C and D.

The ITs, however, have shown excellent marks in other categories. Cork IT received an A grade for co-publication research with industry partners and was the only third level institution in the country to achieve this grade. Tallaght IT received an A for interdisciplinary publications and was also the only institution to do so.

Not all of the results from the scheme are positive, however, while DCU scored well in links to industry and business studies among other areas, its lack of an arts department meant that it scored poorly on art related output, receiving only an E. Under the same category, Letterkenny IT, University of Limerick and DIT each received an A, with UCC receiving a B and GMIT a D.

Through the U-Multirank system, European institutes, on average, score better than American one. While this may be due to the system drawing more information from within the EU than anywhere else, the researchers behind the system say that it simply shows the imbalance in commercial rankings. Hazelhorn says that the system could be an important tool to help Europe sell education.

College Ranking Website:

Author: Fiona McBennett

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English Language School Closures

english language school closuresWith the closure of Allied Irish College in Cork, it became the fifth English language school to cease trading in six weeks. The college had sixty students registered and had only been open two months before its shock closure. The Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn has said that another two schools may also close soon.

The closures of English language schools, which mainly cater for international students requiring visas, have been as a result of a crackdown by education authorities and the government to improve regulations. Mr. Quinn said that the aim of the crackdown was to create a ‘quality education mark’ so that foreign students could be assured of the standard of these private schools.

Mr. Quinn said the problem was that the colleges attracted people outside of the European Economic Area who got visas allowing them to live in Ireland as a student as a result of attending the college but also had work opportunities. Speaking about the closures he said that there was clear evidence that the schools had been a “front to provide access to the labour market”.

Allied Irish College in Cork, the first college outside of Dublin to close, is believed to have been connected with Millennium College in Dublin, which shut down unexpectedly a week previously. Several students had transferred from Dublin to Cork after the closure. Three other English language schools in Dublin have also closed.

Hundreds of students have been affected by the closures, claiming that they have lost thousands of euros worth of fees. Many students arrived at Allied Irish Cork the morning of the closure, only to find the school had closed and the doors were shut. The Irish Council for International Students has been assisting the students by arranging support and information meetings for them. Director of ICOS, Sheila Power has said that the sudden closure of the colleges had shone a light on problems that had been known for many years.

Mr. Quinn said he and Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, have brought the matter to Cabinet and will now work on reforming the sector. He has said that a joint taskforce has been created and will meet to establish the number of students affected and to examine if alternative places can be found for them.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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GMIT and LIT Partnership

GMIT Galway and LIT Limerick allianceGalway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) have recently announced a strategic alliance that will result in improved educational opportunities for students. Dr. Maria Hinfelaar and Michael Carmody, the presidents of GMIT and LIT, signed the new agreement together with Des Mahon and Niall Green, the Chairmen, at a reception in GMIT.

The new alliance is based on the two IT’s strategic plans, regional and national skills & national policy and will connect the regional clusters of the West/North West and Mid-West into a multi-stakeholder regional cluster as visualised in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. It will be jointly managed by the Institute’s Presidents.

Carmody, the GMIT President said the alliance meant that both Institutes have committed to a programme of enhanced co-operation and development as well as the development of academic programmes, research programmes and staff development programmes. Hinfelaar, President of LIT said the alliance will enhance the development of the West/ North West Regional Clusters and that it aims to respond to Government policy decisions regarding the development of interaction along the Atlantic Corridor.

Limerick IT is the fourth largest IT in Ireland and has 500 staff members and over 6,000 full-time students. The Institute has five campuses and a learning centre across Limerick City, Tipperary and Clare, with the main campus located at Moylish Park. LIT offers courses from level 6 up to level 10 as well as adult and continuing education courses. In 2008 and 2013, LIT was awarded ‘Institute of Technology of the Year’ by The Sunday Times University Guide, a guide to higher education in Ireland and the UK.

GMIT has five campuses, the Galway campus is the largest of the five and is the Institute’s administrative headquarters. The other four campuses are located in Galway city, Mayo, Letterfrack and Mountbellew. The Institute is comprised of a College of Tourism and Arts, a Centre for Creative Arts and Media, a School of Business, a School Engineering, a School of Science, GMIT Letterfrack and GMIT Mayo. GMIT also provides adult education and lifelong learning courses.

Author: Fiona Mcbennett

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College Lecture Methods Questioned

college lecture methodsAccording to a recent study from the University of Washington, Seattle, traditional lecturing methods are detrimental to students’ learning. The latest findings, published by the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, show that students in traditional lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than those who have been taught through active teaching methods such as group activities and questioning.

Since 1050, when Universities were founded in Western Europe, learning methods have been based on the simple concept of a lecturer standing on a stage and delivering a talk on their specialist topic, however, Scott Freeman, a biologist who led the study, says things have to change. Freeman says that methods of teaching that allow the students to become active rather than passive listeners are the key.

The study analysed 225 undergraduate STEM teaching methods and found that active teaching methods showed significant improvements in students’ grades. Individual’s exam results improved by about 6%; meaning a student could jump up a grade.

Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard University and a campaigner against traditional lecturing techniques for the past 27 years, says that these results make it “almost unethical to be lecturing”. He says that the study proves that current lecture methods are “outdated and inefficient”.

Freeman advises using techniques such as PowerPoint slides, having students explain concepts to each other and random calling of students during a class, all help to engage students and improve their learning. He stated that this type of learning would help students who may otherwise fail or drop STEM courses.

This current study is not the first time traditional lecturing methods have been put under the spotlight; the introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) over the past few years have changed the traditional structure by delivering classes to thousands of students online. Online learning has raised questions about whether there is a need for lecturers at all. According to a study carried out by the U.S. Department of Education, there is no difference between being lectured at online or in college.

Freeman says that while there are certain times when lectures are needed, the traditional mode of the ‘sage on the stage’ needs to be combined with more stimulating methods of teaching that will promote student learning and prepare future teachers.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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