Final year University of Limerick students told their course not accredited

By Ciara Anderson

Last week, 20 final year students of University of Limerick were told that their course was not accredited by the Teaching Council, the regulatory body for teaching in Ireland. Students of the Bachelor of Arts (Education) in Modern Languages course are scheduled to graduate next summer. However, their diploma will be effectively worthless as students will not be able to register as a teacher with the Council. This lack of full qualification could impede any future job opportunities.

Newly created in 2007, this course has a unique and innovative structure. The course, run by Nancy Serrano, aims to teach two languages through the target language as well as traditional modules in education. In addition, third year students are given the opportunity to pursue an Erasmus year, which includes a job placement and study as an Erasmus student in a European university.

The unorthodox structure of the programme is the apparent reason for the delay in accreditation. The Teaching Council is striving to ensure the course meets all technical standards stipulated in the Teaching Council Act, 2001. The Teaching Council is still considering the final submissions from UL. The qualification by the Teaching Council is a separate accreditation to the regular academic accreditation every course must receive from the Higher Education and Training Awards Council.

Aoife Finnerty, UL Students Union education officer, was previously quoted as being concerned for the students as they dealt with the uncertainty and fear regarding graduation and job opportunities. However, after meeting with the Head of both EPS (Education and Professional Studies) and LLCC (Language, Literature, Culture and Communication) the students were assured that the University is dealing with the matter. Students’ fears were quelled as they were extensively briefed on communications between the University and the Teaching Council, as well as the University’s plans for handling the matter.

 Trinity News asked Cliona McLoughlin, Head Executive Officer of Communications and Education in the Teaching Council, if it was standard practice for a university to initiate a new education course without such accreditation from the Teaching Council. She stated “it would be usual for course providers to seek accreditation prior to offering a programme.” This points to a possible oversight on the part of UL. However, the course director was not available to respond to this query.
Limerick’s states the UL Students Union was concerned that the Teaching Council had refused accreditation to the new course. However, this appears inaccurate as the Teaching Council is now reviewing final submissions from UL regarding the course.

The University expects the Teaching Council to finalise accreditation in the coming months. Students can thus look forward to graduating not only with a diploma but a formal qualification to teach.