Island of scholars?

Maynooth College opened on the first of October 1795. The Catholic hierarchy wanted to have its own seminary in Ireland.

Maynooth College opened on the first of October 1795. The Catholic hierarchy wanted to have its own seminary in Ireland.

Up until then, priests had to study abroad. The British Government was happy to support the project as a bulwark against the influence of the French Revolution. Incidentally another anti-revolutionary movement was founded in the same year ‘to defend the King and his offspring’: the Orange Order. At the laying of the foundation stone, the Londonderry Militia played ‘God save the King’ and the large crowd present joined in the chorus with great enthusiasm.

The College is now a university with a wide range of subjects as a result of the expansion of third level education throughout the country. It is claimed that so many companies came to Ireland when the Tiger was alive because of the high level of education of young people here. There was an increase from less than 20% to more than 80% of young people doing the Leaving Cert in the 1990’s and this led to a correspondingly large increase in the number of students going on to university.

The decision of the University of Ulster to close the Modern Languages School and cut back in other departments in Coleraine is a disgrace. As well as that, 1.000 places and 236 jobs are to be lost in Queen’s. The universities will lose out because of this: the demand for places will go down, beyond any shadow of a doubt. Universities are not training camps. They have a duty to offer a general education and to preserve and promote the culture of the community.

Languages are not luxury items. Employers are always complaining because young people do not speak a foreign language. If you want to compete in the business world, you have to speak to the customers in their own language. If there is a lack of demand for languages, the university authorities should find out why and find a solution to the problem.