Thursday, 7 February 2019
Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I support the amendment tabled by Senator Reilly and many others. It is bizarre that the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland is allowed to describe itself abroad as a university of medicine and health science but is prohibited from doing so in this State.
For almost a quarter of a millennium, the RCSI has been a leader in the field of medical education. It is a statutory body, which was founded by charter in 1784, and it has the same statutory status as Trinity College Dublin. The RCSI was around to witness the birth of St. Patrick's College in Maynooth in 1785 and the Queen's colleges in Belfast, Cork and Galway in 1854. Throughout all of this time, the college has set standards in Irish third level education rather than follow them. The Times Higher Education World Rankings 2019 has ranked the RCSI second only to Trinity College Dublin, out of the nine Irish institutions that feature on its list, and ranked the RCSI in the top 250 universities in the world.
In 2015, we allowed the college to be referred to outside of this country as a university. Why then did we restrict the college from calling itself a university within this State? The anomaly seems odd and I am sure it is unhelpful to the college, particularly abroad. The use of the term "university" is not one that is conferred casually, and rightly so. There is ample evidence that the RCSI more than meets its exacting educational standards. The college is an international leader in supporting healthcare professionals through high quality education, research and service. We should remove any impediments that will prevent it from continuing its work and, ultimately, enabling people to live longer and healthier lives. I, therefore, support the amendment. I also support the call made by Senator Reilly that this matter must be addressed within this House.