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Irish third level teaching will need to change

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A RECENT Irish Times report reflects on a reality that we might wish to ignore.

Third level teaching in Ireland is stale. While some of you might think UL is great, unfortunately in the greater scale of things, it quite worryingly, is not.

The primary function and purpose of a University is to facilitate research and to a lesser extent, confer teaching and at a later stage, degrees.

A University does not exist to aid you in getting the shift, eat several hundred hot chicken rolls, and drink 456 six packs of Bav. I fear that the student experience has been given all too much emphasis and we have lost focus on our primary reason for being here. To learn.

The quality of teaching and those who teach has not been assured. That is not to say there are not an exceptional number of hugely qualified, inspirational and well capable lecturers at UL. But with that there are very qualified and knowledgeable individuals who are incapable of imparting that knowledge to students.

The Irish Times reports that academics often trade teaching duties for administrative duties and vice versa. This may indeed result in situations involving those who are talented at teaching relinquishing themselves to the photocopier.

There is no justice in this for the student.

Countless students suffer from difficulty understanding and grasping material, often resulting in the dreaded repeats. It seems fair to ascertain that inadequate lecturers are partly to blame here. It’s all very well having lovely new buildings, pubs and manicured greens, but that does not aid us in fulfilling our primary purpose with adequacy.

This may be a gravely incorrect assumption however it has been said that those who spend many many years pursuing a PhD often become disconnected from the student life. When they progress on to teaching they may well have great passion for their material but have little idea as to what it’s like to be a student.

In similar vein, there are rafts of Masters holders who are equally passionate and knowledgeable but have not forgotten the principles of learning as an undergraduate. These individuals should not be eradicated from the learning chain.

With registration fees rising year on year, it’s about time students started to look for value for their money.

Colm Fitzgerald

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