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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Leaving Cert should be "blown up"

Former head of UCD’s business schools adds his voice to criticism of ‘parrot-learning’ Leaving Certificate.

Image: Sean MacEntee via

THE FORMER DEAN of UCD’s Smurfit and Quinn business schools has said the Leaving Certificate is “dysfunctional” and needs to be “blown up”. In an interview with Kathy Foley in today’s Sunday Times (print edition), Professor Tom Begley said that the Irish government “does not have a clue” about creating an effective strategy for third-level education.

American Begley is leaving UCD after seven years to take up a post at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The Institute welcomed his appointment by describing Begley as someone with “a wealth of academic administrative experience, and a well-refined view of the attributes a leading business school requires for the teaching and research relevant to the students of the 21st century”.

He isn’t the only figure in the education sector to argue that the Leaving Cert systems leaves students unable to deal with the leap to third-level. Speakers at a meeting of the joint committee on Education and Science last December found that the learning-by-rote nature of the Leaving Cert did not allow for independent thought.

The Hunt Report on the strategy for higher education until 2030, which was called “a great disappointment” by Begley, was called “uninspiring” by the Irish Federation of University Teachers when it was published in January. The Federation said that the Hunt report might prove to be “one of our all-time most expensive dust accumulators” and said:

It singularly lacks any specific indicators of how any of its recommendations might be implemented against the opposition of vested interests.

Read Kathy Foley’s interview with Tom Begley in today’s print edition of the Sunday Times>

Poll: Do you think the Leaving Cert should be scrapped?

Column: Dear student, the Leaving Cert is damaging your brain>

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