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The dynamics of human capital and the world of work

Towards a common market in contemporary tertiary education

Author - Aidan Kenny


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1 The usage of ‘tertiary education’ is developed from OECD (1998), which refers to tertiary as a level or stage beyond second level up to university and non-university. When the term is used in this paper in relation to the Irish context it refers to Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) which are listed in the 1971 Higher Education Act (amended in 2006). The paper specifically focuses on the Institutes of Technology, DIT and the universities.

2 For a more detailed account of ‘employability’ see Kenny et al. (2007).

3 The Bologna Process has moved from a two cycle system to a three cycle system, which includes cycle 1 undergraduate, cycle 2 postgraduate, cycle 3 doctorate PhD.

4 An ECTS system is proposed for the VET sector under the European Credit Transfer System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).

5 For more details on quality assurance in Higher Education, see Kenny (2006a) and Kenny (2006b).

6 The OECD (2008: 53) estimated that in 2005 there were 2.73 million international students (students in higher education studying outside their country of citizenship), the destination of 75 per cent of this cohort was to OECD countries, Chinese students accounted for 40 per cent.

7 The rational for including the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) with the seven universities is that DIT has the same autonomous awarding powers as the other universities, its objects and functions under the DIT Act are compatible with the objects and functions of the 1997 University Act. The other fifteen Institutes of Technology are not awarding bodies in their own right and require delegated authority from HETAC. Further the seven universities and the DIT are all members of the European University Association (EUA).

8 The 13 Institutes of Technology are listed in the IoT Act 2006, Section 3, First Schedule, pages 17–18. DIT is not listed in this section of the Act, and thereby maintains a separate legal status from the other IoTs.

9 A distinction is made here between Private (for profit) providers not in receipt of public funding and Others who do not come under the remit of the DoES and the HEA in terms of HE but who may receive public funding from different sources within the state apparatus such as An Garda (police force), army, further education organisations and trade union and employers organisations. All these types of providers can submit their courses to the HETAC for accreditation.

10 Figures for part-time enrolments in the Institutes of Technology sector for 2007 were not available at the time of publication of this article. Before 2006 there were two separate systems used for gathering data on the universities kept by the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education and Science. From 2009 onwards the HEA will provide data for both sectors.

11 Apprentices enter the IoTs and DIT to undertake both Phases 4 and 6 of the Standard Based Apprenticeship system. The apprenticeship population for 2007 was 28,500 of which 6,763 were new entrances (source FAS 2008).

12 Acts in an Irish context are artefacts of State proposed and adopted by the Oireachtas, Statutory Instruments and Legislation of Government. They set out the legal statute and framework.

13 For more information on the evolution of the DIT from its foundation in 1887 see Duff et al. (2000).

14 The 1998 amendments to the DIT Act provided for full degree-awarding power to the DIT, including graduate and postgraduate. DIT gained the same autonomous degree awarding powers as the universities. The evaluation of degree-awarding powers of the DIT came under the remit of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) as detailed in the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999. DIT now operates to the same status of the Irish universities: however the Irish Government has not as of yet delegated DIT as a university.

15 The principle function of DIT (under the DIT Act 1992) is located in technical, vocational education and training (TVET). It is worth noting that in 2007 DIT linked into the United Nations and became the UNESCO-UNEVOC National Centre for Ireland. The remit of this centre is to promote TVET. For more information see Kenny (2008).

16 Policy in this context differs from Acts. Policy is more of a narrative demonstrating intent and direction. It is more process orientated while Acts are legal instruments.

17 The delivery process includes new forms of delivery such as ICT based mechanisms, and new forms of learning experience such as group work, problem-based learning, work placements and internships.

18 The use of the term programme here relates to a document that outlines the course of study, similar to a curriculum document. However, in an Irish context the use of the term curriculum is usually confined to primary and secondary education.

19 There are various types of quality assurance mechanisms: some focus on procedures and controls, while others emphasise process and enhancement. For more details see Kenny (2006a).

20 Usage here relates to Bernstein’s concept of elaborate and restrictive language codes in class formation.

21 See Ball (2008: 1) relating to the convergence of international policy trends.

22 Ball (2008: 26–27) relates this term to influential international organisations such as WTO, OECD, WB, UN, etc.

23 Discourse is used here in its broadest sense – language, culture, symbolic interaction, power relationship.

24 See Gibbons et al. (1994), which details the shift from Mode 1 to Mode 2 knowledge.

25 Generic key skill: transferable skills, employability skills, work experiences, internships and work placements etc.

26 Becker (1964) on economic perspective, which gives theoretical, empirical accounts on the returns from education and training.

27 In Europe the Diploma Supplement and the itemised units of value ECTS and ECVET are the emerging currency.

28 Quality assurance systems: degree structure frameworks like the Bologna process, EQF.

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