One of the country’s largest teacher-training colleges is to take up a role in educating second-level teachers as it takes over St Patrick’s College in Thurles as a satellite campus.
The transfer to become part of Mary Immaculate College (MIC) in Limerick is to be finalised in the coming months but the announcement brings certainty to the future of the Co Tipperary college. It did not enrol any new students this year to its initial teacher education (ITE) programmes that qualify graduates to teach accounting, business studies, Irish and religion.
MIC is the largest ITE provider outside of Dublin, and offers one of the country’s two main undergraduate courses for entry to careers in primary school teaching. However, there were no graduates this year, or at St Patrick’s College in Dublin, as the B Ed degree has been extended from a three-year to a four-year programme.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the incorporation of St Patrick’s College, Thurles into MIC will be of great benefit to the students, staff and broader stakeholders of Mary Immaculate College and St Patrick’s College.
The announcement follows talks between representatives of both institutions, assisted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), but goes against the recommendation of a 2012 international panel’s report to the HEA that teacher education be discontinued in Thurles.
The college graduates around 30 people as second-level teachers a year, but is understood to register about 80 new students a year when community and theological course intakes are added. The question of employment issues for about 30 acade- mic staff will form part of the negotiations that will take place in the coming months.
The same 2012 report for the HEA recommended MIC be integrated into University of Limerick to merge their teacher education programmes, with the MIC campus being an appropriate location for the new teacher education centre.
While they are working together with Limerick Institute of Technology on a regional educational alliance, no merger has taken place but there are ongoing talks about UL and MIC jointly offering some programmes.
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