Getting it wrong on access students

WE were deeply concerned by the comments attributed to UCC President Dr Michael Murphy concerning access students (Irish Examiner, Dec 21).

For the president of an Irish university to suggest, based on what he terms — “extensive anecdotal evidence” — that there is a “requirement to rebalance” resources currently used to improve third-level access so as to support the most talented students is outrageous. Just who is Dr Murphy referring to when he talks of Ireland’s brightest school-leavers? Recent critiques of the Leaving Certificate indicate that many experts do not believe that this exam is the most appropriate means by which to realise or measure a student’s potential. The Leaving Certificate, in which the purchasing of advantage through private tuition is increasingly the norm among the privileged, is already an uneven playing field for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and with disabilities. Now Dr Murphy is suggesting that these students may have to take another hit because increased access has brought “academically weaker students” who need “more academic support”.

Dr Murphy would do well to read the mission statement of the Department of Education and Skills, which is to “provide high-quality education, which will enable individuals to achieve their full potential, to participate fully as members of society, and contribute to Ireland’s social, cultural and economic development”.

Perhaps Dr Murphy’s energies would be better served by continuing to challenge the State on its chronic underfunding of third-level education — and not suggesting that disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and mature students may have to shoulder the burden in order for brighter students to prosper?

Dr Martin J. Power,

Dr Eoin Devereux,

Dr Amanda Haynes,

Dr Brendan Halpin,

Dr Carmen Kuhling,

Dr Micheal O’ Flynn,

Dr Aileen Dillane,

Dr Tina O’Toole,

Dr Ann MacPhail,

Dr Liam Murray,

Barbara Geraghty,

Deirdre M. O’ Connor,

Paul M. Hayes,

Gabriella Hanrahan (University of Limerick);

Professor Dave Hill (Visiting Professor of Education Policy and Equality Studies — UL);

Professor Danielle Clark,

Dr Anne Mulhall (University College Dublin);

Orla O’Donovan (University College Cork);

Dr Gavan Titley,

Dr Stephanie Rains,

Dr John O’Brennan,

Dr Moynagh Sullivan,

Dr Kylie Jarrett,

Dr Bríd Connolly (NUI Maynooth) and

Dr Cormac Forkan (NUI Galway)

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