My First Letter to the Irish Times :: from a current Cash Cow to the Emperor’s New Tailor

In response to yesterday’s (Tues Jan. 17, 2006) Irish Times article, entitled “ New body to be set up to attract foreign students to Ireland” (Paid subscribers), which starts:

A new body to attract thousands of foreign students to Irish colleges and universities is to be set up before Easter, the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, has said.
To be know as the Education Ireland, it will co-ordinate the efforts of third-level institutions to attract foreign students and will care for their accommodation and personal needs while they are here.

…. etc etc etc….
The clincher to this article is that Mary Hanafin is now in Bangalore, India, trying to convince Indian students to pay a minimum of 25,000 Euros for the priviledge of attending understaffed and underfunded Irish colleges and universities. I can understand the government desiring wealthy Irish-Americans to come to the Old Sod to help pay for Irish students’ free education, but asking a by far poorer country’s students to come and pay 25,000 more Euros than the much wealthier E.U. students are currently paying…. Hello, wakey up-y. Is this not exploitation in the name of budget padding?
Thus, I have written my frist letter to the Editor of the Irish Times:

Dear Madam,
Before Mary Hanafin and the Irish Ministry for Education set up a new body to attract foreign students to third level and post graduate education, Ms. Hanafin and the Education Ministry need to assure that there will be good customer service provided to their cash cows, ie the education provided is what was advertised and that the colleges in question are properly staffed, organized, and administered, and while the government is at it, please do assure that the foreign students and their families in question can get the visas needed to pursue the education that the government would like us to pay for.
Speaking of visas, if the Ministry of Eduction would like to have foreign students come pursue a post-graduate degree at 10 to 20 times the cost of the Irish/E.U. fees and wish us to stay to meet the needs of 6,000 Ph.D.s by 2013, please do make sure that the Guarda and Immigration folks allow us to stay, at the very least, in time for graduation, let alone the jobs you wish us to fill.
I am in my fourth month of a taught masters course at Trinity College, Dublin, and find the venerable university to be woefully understaffed and terribly underfunded for their mission to educate the students that have signed up and paid for their fees. In my program and in many of the other masters and Ph.D. programs that my fellow foreign students are in, what was advertised in the websites and prospectus is not the course or program that we are receiving, we are frustrated to say the least, and in many cases down right angry.
Please, if you wish to make foreign students your cash cow to fund your universities and allow Irish/E.U. students to have free or greatly reduced fees, then please do provide us with a semblance of proper staffing, organization, and administration, as well as truth in advertising.
Sincerly,
Jenifer MooMoo-en
at the Trinity Coral Corral

Of the 30 plus foreign students in my immediate acquaintance, the only two who are not frustrated and angry are the two whose department has admitted that they are cash cows and take them out for weekly drinks on the department…
Update: Wed. 01.18.06 – Woke up this morning, checked my email, and Erika pointed out to me that I misspelled Corrall (place to keep livestock) as Coral (nice sea creatures that build islands) at the end of my letter. Oops… and it was already sent off last night via email. That’s what I get for spell checking the body of the email and not the ending.

4 thoughts on “My First Letter to the Irish Times :: from a current Cash Cow to the Emperor’s New Tailor

  1. Gawd, that’s horrible. Now that I’ve grown up and perceive things a bit more better….I think that it was the same way when I went to high school in New Zealand. The foreign students are just cash cows.

  2. I do believe everywhere does it, but not quite as cynically in the public press… If the Irish gov’t are going to make a policy of luring in non-EU students to help make up the budget shortfalls, then at the very least make sure that the programs and schools are funded and staffed.
    In the US, the public colleges and universities are a bit more level about the whole thing, everyone but the state residents who have proven to be in the state for the last year have to pay the higher fee. Thus, if you want to go to UCLA or Berekely, you have to have lived in California for one year paying taxes to get the cheap CA rate, but if you haven’t, even if you grew up in CA but were somewhere else for a year and paid taxes there, you get to pay the high rate unless you want to wait a year. And if you go to a private college, then everyone one gets to pay the high rate.

  3. You’re right in that point. But the same thing happened to me in NZ, there was only one international student coordinator, who was the principal’s husband – just heard from my friend that they had been stashing goverment’s funding in their own pockets…and well, made the national news for that. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of that money actually came from the international student fees.
    Anyhow, the coordinator was ever always too busy to help you out….
    The system in the US is logical and fair. But I think it depends on the whole status quo of the state/land itself whether it can implement such action in its education system….or as in lots of cases, it depends on the politicians…*sigh*
    BTW, I’ve tagged you for a Meme ( http://numenna.blogspot.com/2006/01/meme-from-tariand-she-tagged-me.html )….if you feel like doing it. 😉

  4. Good Letter Jen. Too bad about misspelling Corral 🙂
    *Just finished reading the article*
    –interesting… Ireland is going to have some serious issues here in the near future.

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