Concern over future ethos of Catholic teacher training college

Academic voices concern over St Patrick’s merger with DCU

Concern has been raised regarding the Catholic ethos of St Patrick’s teacher training college in Dublin as it prepares to merge with its larger, secular neighbour, Dublin City University (DCU).

In a letter to The Irish Catholic, Dr Ciarán Ó Coigligh of St Patrick’s states that “by 2016 Saint Patrick’s College, Mater Dei Institute, and Church of Ireland College of Education will all be incorporated into secular Dublin City University as a secular institute of education, located on the Drumcondra campus”.

Contending that a recent meeting at St Patrick’s led by the heads of St Patrick’s and DCU barely touched on the question of ethos, Dr Ó Coigligh adds: “Neither the students, their parents, nor the college community in any of the three colleges have been consulted on the matter of ethos”.

Dr Ó Coigligh further asserts that experiences to date in terms of the ethos of third level institutions do not bode well for the future educational landscape.

“The Christian ethos of the older universities has been decimated.

“Denominational colleges of secular universities are being destroyed. Secular homogeneity is the only option tolerated.”

Contacted by The Irish Catholic, Prof. Daire Keogh, President of St Patrick’s, said that discussions towards the incorporation of the institutions are “ongoing”.

“In this context particular consideration is being given to appropriate structural arrangements for preserving the ethos and traditions of the colleges within the setting of a secular university,” Prof. Keogh said.

A spokesperson for Archbishop Martin, who is patron of St Patrick’s, also acknowledged that discussions continue, adding: “Archbishop Martin is hopeful that a formula can be found which will enhance training for teachers in denominational schools, both Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland.   

“The hope is that the formula will be fully respectful of each ethos, within the context of university excellence.  Both denominations would have a distinctive presence with clear identity. Negotiations are still on-going and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”