Universities to be given quotas to tackle teacher shortages

Roisin Maguire

The quotas will impact programmes in UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and Maynooth University.

Several Irish universities are to be given quotas on the number of secondary school teachers to be trained in key subjects to tackle the teacher shortage in classrooms.

This new move aims to reduce the number of students in the areas where there is an oversupply of teachers, such as  English, history and geography.

Extra training places will be set aside for students who wish to teach the subjects where there is a shortage such as maths, European languages, Irish and physics. The aim of this is to increase the number of students applying for a place in post-graduate education programmes.

The quotas are to be introduced for National University of Ireland postgraduate teacher education programmes. This means that programmes in UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and Maynooth University will be affected.

The Minister for Education Richard Bruton stated that this is one of a number of strategies that he was considering for this area, however many universities have tried to avoid the quotas since they were announced.

“Instead of giving teachers going into maths and physics etc extra hours of learning, why not lower the points for these subjects or offer it in a Bachelor of Arts degree where more people have the opportunity to experience what a career in teaching these subjects might be like,” said Ciaran Fahey, an English and Geography student in Maynooth University.

Another issue to be addressed was the high cost of postgraduate programmes, another factor into why fewer students are applying to become teachers in certain subjects.

Executive Dean of the DCU Institute of Education Dr Anne Looney does not believe that quotas are the best approach. Her thoughts are based off the implementation of quotas in England, after which they were still left with thousands of unfilled places in education programmes.

Looney said the issue is that science and maths graduates are not applying for masters degrees in teaching in the first place, so extra training places would not be a viable solution.

A new minimum requirement of an honours degree will also be required for entry into the post-graduate programme. The quotas will be based on information from the Department of Education’s Teacher Supply Steering Group.

He also stressed the importance of supports and student teacher pay during college so students can successfully finish placements.

DCU announced that they will keep the entry requirements for its postgraduate programmes under review.

Roisin Maguire

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