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Staff qualifications more nuanced

Niall Murray’s recent article on staff qualifications in the Institute of Technology sector presents raw figures that are interesting, but there are nuances that might have been included to provide a clearer picture.

Previous articles on this topic have compared the percentage of staff with PhDs in the IoTs v the universities. Such a comparison is not valid as almost all programmes in the universities are at Levels 8-10. In the IoTs, a considerable amount of work is done at Levels 6 & 7.

So, a valid comparison would be the percentage of staff teaching at Levels 8-10 in both the IoTs and the universities that have PhDs. The same would go for comparisons of staff who hold Level 9 and 10 qualifications.

By not making this more valid comparison, the impression is created that IoT staff are somehow ill-qualified for their roles. Indeed, the heading of Niall Murray’s article refers to a ‘lack ... of suitably qualified staff’.

This is misleading as all academic staff (both in the IoTs and the universities) are selected and appointed on the basis that they have the necessary qualifications.

As long as I have been a manager in the sector (11+ years), this has been an extremely competitive process with high numbers of very suitable, qualified and experienced applicants competing for a very small number of academic positions.

PhDs are important benchmarks of academic attainment, but by no means the only ones, particularly in disciplines where the terminal qualification is professional, rather than academic. Such disciplines are perhaps more prevalent in the IoTs than in the universities.

In the discipline areas in my school, for example, (law, social care and early childhood education), it is desirable that the staff team will include staff with the highest academic qualifications, as well as those with extensive professional experience.

Lecturers in the IoT sector are a highly qualified and experienced cohort who contribute enormously to Irish society.

We educate almost half of all students in higher education nationwide.

Kevin Lalor

Head of School of Social Sciences and Law

DIT

40-45 Mountjoy Square

Dublin 1


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