Maynooth Education Forum – Recognising the 12%: Ethnic Minorities’ Trajectories through the Education System

MU Ed Forum

Maynooth Education Forum – 16 June 2016. Recognising the 12%; Ethnic Minorities’ Trajectories through the Education System

Now in its fifth year, the Maynooth Education Forum is an open space where an invited group of education policymakers and stakeholders come together to exchange ideas and reflect on key issues in education. The 2017 Education Forum is recognising the 12% of migrants in the Irish Education system and we would be honoured if you were to attend and add your voice to the discussion.

This year’s Forum seeks to promote progressive change by:

  • Exploring how migrants are faring in the Irish education system and seeking to understand their lived experience
  • Sharing best practice from other countries
  • Understanding how teachers and the education system can adapt to cater for migrants and identify supports required for teachers

Keynote details are below, and you can register your attendance here.

Keynote speakers:

Dr Zelia Gregoriou, University of Cyprus, is a philosopher of education. Her research has explored the need to rethink intercultural education with regards to curriculum and pedagogy, policy frames, and research methodology.

Prof Irena Kogan, University of Mannheim, is project director of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries, focusing on the intergenerational integration of the children of immigrants in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Prof Frances McGinnity, ESRI, with colleagues has conducted a large study of migrant children in Irish schools. She is currently collaborating with EU colleagues on a project examining early socio-cultural integration patterns of migrants

Dr Victoria Showunmi is Senior Lecturer in the Maynooth University Department of Education. Her research focuses on Gender and Educational leadership and Black young women and their wellbeing through an intersectional lens.

Register to attend: here (Please circulate to potentially interested parties)

Further information:


See Blogpost on Matters FET at

: European Life Long Learning Project. The DIMA project A practical toolkit for monitoring Adult Education strategies, policies and practices.

  Follow us on Twitter  @mu_aced

Michael Kenny, Lecturer, Department of Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University (Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad) Click here

INVITE become a member of the DIMA project e-Learning Expert Review Group


Last week I started inviting a number of adult educators to become a member of the DIMA project e-Learning Expert Review Group. The DIMA project ( “A Toolkit for Developing, Implementing and Monitoring Adult Education Strategies” is a two year project, 2015-2017, involving 6 partners/5 countries, (See, to investigate and design a toolkit to support policy makers in the field of adult/further education.

The toolkit is underpinned by a 10 hour online learning course comprising 9 modules. The project partners are currently testing the appropriateness of the course. To do this the project partners are seeking an expert review group who will, between now and the end of June;

  1. Review the online course
  2. Complete a feedback form
  3. Meet in sub-groups (F2F or virtual), to offer more detailed feedback on the online course/toolkit, advise on content, and explore additional support to Adult Education policymaking.

If this might interest you the project partners invite you to be a member of the DIMA Online e-Learning Expert Review Group. Members will have first access to an online toolkit and course for adult/further education policy makers, and, get an insight into a simple online content delivery method.

If you are interested in participating, please let me know by blog feedback or email to I will send you course access and details. If you cannot participate, perhaps, you may suggest a person(s) of equal expertise whom I should invite.FET_profile_pic

I will keep you up to date with progress. Thanking you,

Michael Kenny, Lecturer, Department of Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University (Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad) Click here

DIMA Disclaimer

Widening Participation Maynooth University

Maynooth University is consulting its departments in the preparation of a new strategic plan up to 2020.  The Registrar, Professor Aidan Mulkeen, highlighted to us at a recent briefing that the new strategic plan seeks to re-balance the student body to be more reflective of Irish society.  This means proactively and deliberately realigning the student intake mix to reflect the communities that make up Irish Society.

Maynooth University is proud that the student body has 4% more of targeted socioeconomic groups and 5% more mature students among its student population than the average %s across all the higher education institutions (HEIs) in Ireland.  However, “We could do better”.

The National Access Plan,, adds focus to Maynooth University’s bid to widen participation in HE.

The Department of Adult and Community Education,, is a leader among Maynooth University Departments in reaching out to a more diverse target group.  In this post I am asking those of you working at the coal-face of Further Education and Training (FET) and Community Education (CommEd) to submit suggestions on how the University can facilitate more graduates from FET and CommEd to access Higher Education (HE).

I attach an online Suggestion Submission Form. There is only one question in it: “Two suggestions to facilitate graduates of FET or CommEd into HE”. It will take 3 minutes to complete.

It asks for your name, email address, and to select if are you responding about FET learners or CommEd learners? (If you want to respond re both complete the form for a second time)

Responses will come directly into a database. All responses are confidential to me and will not be identifiable in any way. I will use responses to inform a submission from this Department.

The online address to get directly to the response form is

I will start preparing the submission on May 29th so there is one week for responses. Any suggestions welcome.

Michael Kenny, Lecturer, Department of Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University (Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad) Click here

AONTAS Pushing out Boundaries

AONTAS Seminar march 2017

AONTAS  are delivering a seminar ‘The European Union: Solidarity in a Time of Uncertainty’  from 10am – 2pm at the Ashling Hotel, Dublin, Ireland on the 10/03/2017. This will be the closing event of the AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival (6th – 10th March 2017). Information on the Festival at:

The seminar will discuss the role and value of the EU in adult learning policy and practice. David Mallows, University College London and UK EPALE thematic coordinator will deliver the keynote address. Dr. Jane O’ Kelly, Dublin City University will partake in the panel discussions along with Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik of the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education and EAAL National Coordinator in Slovenia. For the agenda click here:

The seminar will be streamed via Facebook Live on the AONTAS Facebook at It is a way of opening access.

We educators must be at the cutting edge of using this medium. It is increasingly the way people are accessing information and engaging in debate. Increasingly we need more uptodate information but we are restricted in time and resources to personally attend information events. Appropriate use of IT is proving equitable access. It is great to see AONTAS lead on making seminars like this available generally. Increasingly AONTAS is the go-to organisation for policy, access and practice in adult education.

I applaud their professionalism and innovation. personally I will miss my opportunity of inputting directly into the strategic direction of AONTAS as I will have to step down from the AONTAS Executive at the next AGM on May 24th. However, I will continue to input …

AONTAS LogoMichael Kenny

Community Finance Ireland survey 437 community groups, charities, sports clubs and social enterprises in Ireland


Community Finance (Ireland), formerly known as UCIT (Ireland) Ltd, operates as a charity providing loans exclusively to organisations such as community groups, charities, sports clubs and social enterprises in Ireland. Since 2001, as part of the wider Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) Group, Community Finance (Ireland) assisted by committing in excess of €80 million to over 400 organisations across the island of Ireland. Community Finance (Ireland) make finance available to organisations for buildings and equipment, working capital, cash shortfalls, bridging finance against delayed grants or other confirmed income, and restructuring of existing debt.

The January 2017 survey results “Financing The Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland – An Overview (Without Alternative Facts)” (See makes interesting reading. The survey ranged over 80,000 members servicing nearly 0.5 million service users


Community Finance (Ireland) undertook an extensive nationwide survey of the community and voluntary sector to get a deeper understanding of the issues impacting upon community and voluntary organisations throughout Ireland.

Rad the report at

Adult Education Policy Toolkit: REGIONAL Project

A previous European project, the Regional Project delivered a basic toolkit that informs the developments in the DIMA project. The toolkit is available at


The toolkit was very well received at the 13th European Week of Regions and Cities (OPEN DAYS) hosted in the European Committee of the Regions’ premises, known as the ‘Meeting Place’ in Brussels on 12-15 October 2015. The programme is available at this site.

The project partners were the Agency of Adult and Further Education is run under the auspices of the Lower Saxony League for Liberal Adult Education (nbeb)The Hungarian Ministry for National Economy, SVIMEZ Italy, the Regional Economic Development Agency for Šumadija and Pomoravlje Ltd (REDASP) Serbia,  IDP European Consultants Brussels, Academia Istropolitana Nova (AINova) Slovakia, and the Department of Adult and Community Education Maynooth University.

Through this project I became aware of inclusive policy making in Adult Education is across Europe. While there is a richness in European and OECD policy documents theFET_profile_pic documents in a number of countries are prepared by elites and executives to satisfy transparency and funding requirements. However they are removed from learner needs and activist aspirations.

However that is a topic we will return to anon.

Learning and Getting Older: What are the Policy Priorities?

Over the last few weeks I have been reflecting on turning 60 years of age and the new year 2017. I thought the following data from Ageing statistics for Ireland, North and South was sobering:

In 1961, there were 315,000 people aged 65 or over in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). At the 2011 census, it was 535,393, an increase of 70% (Central Statistics Office, 2012a). By 2041, there will be 1.4 million in ROI aged 65 and over, three times more than the older population now. This older group will make up 22% of the total population, compared to 11.6% of the population in 2011 (Central Statistics Office, 2007) (Central Statistics Office, 2012  This is Ireland – Highlights from Census 2011)

By 2041, the number of people aged 75 and over is projected to reach almost 1 million by 2041 on the island of Ireland. Life expectancy at birth in the ROI (2005-2007) is 76.8 years for men and 81.6 years for women (Central Statistics Office, 2009). 95% of men and women in ROI aged 70 and over rate their health as very good (19%), good (50%) or fair (26%) (Central Statistics Office, 2008).

8.8% of older people in ROI (aged 65 and over) are still in employment, 14% of men and 4.6% of women (Central Statistics Office, 2011a) In ROI, 9.6% of people aged 65 and over are at risk of poverty and 1.1% are in consistent poverty (Central Statistics Office, 2011 Survey on Income and Living Conditions. Thematic Report on the Elderly 2004 and 2009. Dublin: Central Statistics Office )

In ROI, the contributory State Pension is worth €230.30 per week for someone with maximum social insurance contributions. This is 33% of the average salary (Central Statistics Office, 2012).

In ROI, there are 187,000 carers, and 13% of these are 65 years of age or over (Central Statistics Office, 2012a) The average age of care recipients on the island of Ireland is 76 years. The average age of care givers for an older person is 73 years (CARDI, 2009 Care and Caring in Ireland, North and South: Older People as both Recipients and Givers of Care. Belfast: CARDI).

What about learning? Continued mental stimulation in later life promotes good physical and mental health. However, only 0.5% of people in Ireland over the age of 40 are involved in education – that’s one of the lowest proportions of adult learners in the EU.

Other interesting documents related to our mental and physical health and community participation are:

  1. Healthy Ireland. Survey 2015 Department of Health
  2. Ageing and Labour Market Participation 2004 Russell & Fahey
  3. How to promote active ageing in Europe.EU support to local and regional actors. September 2011 EUROPEAN UNION. Committee of the Regions
  4. Sustainable work and the ageing workforce  European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions

Happy aging in 2017. We’re all in this together. See

What Value the University Academic: What does Policy say?

Lecturers are typically defined by their research profile or by their focus on teaching. In actual fact it is both (Source and Source Accessed 22/12/2016). But many academics are “academic artisans”: lecturers who are not highly productive researchers but, far from being lazy or deficient, are often the individuals who keep universities ticking over and should be given more recognition in the academy. By taking on a larger share of undergraduate teaching and administration academic artisans allow other ‘more savy’ academics to concentrate on research.

Angela Brew, Sydney’s Macquarie University, David Boud of Deakin University, Karin Crawford of the University of Lincoln, and Lisa Lucas of the University of Bristol,  surveyed over 2,000 academics in the UK and Australia and published their findings in 2015 (Source Accessed 22/12/2016). They  found that a significant number of respondents who considered themselves to be research-active or were in research teams were not actually particularly productive in terms of publications; that this group spent an average of five additional hours a week teaching compared with more prolific researchers, and took on important administrative tasks, such as coordinating undergraduate courses, overseeing teaching at satellite campuses and chairing committees.

Richard Prine, Professor of Education at the University of Winchester recently (December 2016 in Maynooth University) noted that in the UK a large number of universities had abandoned teaching teacher to follow a more research driven agenda. teaching teachers is left to the lesser lesser colleges.

Like motherhood, the preparation of the next generation is valued as less important than the achievements of this generation. Surely this is a policy issue for universities


A policy Question: Funding Crisis in Higher Education: What Direction now?

There is widespread agreement that the third level sector is in crisis following years of funding cuts and rising student numbers. One result of cutbacks is nearly all of Ireland’s universities are continuing to fall in international rankings and there are damaging long-term effects according to the heads of Trinity College Dublin and UCD (Source accessed 22 December 2016). The IUA (Irish Universities Association) Press Statement in July noes that the  Pre-crisis, the ratios in Irish universities were already poor by international standards at circa 1:16 or 1:17 on average. Following the crisis, ratios now stand at 1:21 in the universities. This is significantly worse than the OECD average which stood at 1:14 in 2012.

According to chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education, established by the Minister for Education and Skills in 2014, Mr. Peter Cassells “The current system fails to recognise the pressures facing higher education institutions and the scale of the coming demographic changes,” he said. “It also fails to fully recognise the pressures on families and students, not just because of the €3,000 fee, but also the high living and maintenance costs associated with studying and successfully progressing through college.” ( accessed 22 December 2016). A document prepared for the Minister of public expenditure and reform recommended a student loan scheme “with the current €3,000 charge being converted to a €4,000 fee that is repayable when the student enters paid employment above a certain income levels” (Source accessed 22 December 2016). Under this scheme a college graduate could expect to pay €100-€150 per month over 10-15 years and A recently qualified teacher on €37,000 a year would repay about €70-€120 a month under the type of student loan scheme (Source accessed 22 December 2016). The President of Maynooth Professor Philip Nolan said the cost should be split evenly between third-level students and the Government.

The Expert Group report says current expenditure on third level needs to be increased to €1 billion by 2030, with a €600 million increase needed by 2021. “A capital investment requirement of €5.5 billion over the next 15 years is also identified, as well as an additional €100m for student financial aid” according to Mr Cassells. The proposed increase in college and university fees to €4,000 per year will not be enough to solve the funding shortfall in the third level sector and student contributions should be raised even further.

Are we facing a situation akin to that suggested by Alan Hall in the article “The Education Industry Faces A Multi-Decade Peak” in March 2013


The DIMA Project: An Overview


The DIMA Project (A Toolkit for Developing, Implementing and Monitoring Adult Education Strategies) envisions the development of a practical toolkit for developing, implementing and monitoring Adult Education strategies, policies and practices in European countries. The toolkit will facilitate increased adult lifelong participation in education / training and enhance basic skills for specific adult target groups.

The DIMA Project is in line with the horizontal priority of Erasmus+ of “contributing to the development of a European Area of European Area of Skills and Qualifications” and with the program specific priorities of ‘evaluating the effectiveness of adult education policies’, ‘aligning European policies, strategies and practices’, and, ‘designing and implementing effective strategies for adult education’.

The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth acknowledges lifelong learning and skills development as key elements in response to the current economic crisis, to demographic ageing and to the broader economic and social strategy of the European Union. Yet, there is a growing consensus that adult learning is currently the weakest link in developing national lifelong learning systems. Participation in adult learning has continued to fall, from 9,8% of the 25-64 year-old population in 2005 to 9,1% in 2010. This trend makes reaching the increased ‘ET2020’ target of 15 % by 2020 an even greater challenge (Council Resolution on a renewed European agenda for adult learning, 2011).

The two-year project links five European countries and one pan-European organisation to develop a toolkit for policy makers. Updates on the project will be posted on the website and on this blog. The project partners are:

Project Partners Country
Ministry of Education and Culture Cyprus


Centre For Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology Ltd-CARDET Cyprus
Department of Adult and Community Education, Maynooth University Ireland


Andragoski Center Republike Slovenije Slovenia


Narodny Ustav Celozivotneho Vzdelavania Slovakia


European Association for the Education of Adults Belgium