Statement from the Principal of St. Patrick’s College

26/02/2015

 The BBC invited me to be interviewed for the Face the Facts programme broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 26th February.

I said ‘yes’ provided you also interview the Student President and make full recordings, not just the excerpts you broadcast, available on the Radio 4 website.

The BBC declined to do that and then reported in the broadcast that I had ‘changed my mind’ about participating, with no mention of my conditions for doing so.

The programme was given the title ‘Inside St. Patrick’s’ but was in fact about the differing idealogical views of the Conservative and Labour parties regarding the value and place of private sector providers of higher education and whether the present government’s policies had been introduced in too much of a hurry and without adequate monitoring of the results.

St. Patrick’s was featured as an illustration or ‘case study’ of how private providers had responded to encouragement from the present government to challenge traditional colleges and universities.

In places, the programme presented a less than flattering picture of the College which the Student President and I were denied any opportunity to reply to on reasonable terms.

In response I would like to challenge the programme makers, who are like St. Patrick’s a private sector for profit company, which sells material to the BBC, to Face these Facts:

 

  • St. Patrick’s has succeeded dramatically in enrolling large numbers of disadvantaged students from groups who have hitherto never been reached by public colleges and universities

  • the overwhelming majority of those students express high satisfaction with the College

  • no other institution matches our promise that students who make a genuine effort will be supported in continuing their studies for a period of five years or until they succeed, without further charge

  • that is why we offer both government and students exceptional value for public money

I am proud of my staff and of the achievements of our students and I hope listeners seeking to form a balanced view will contact me by email with any questions or queries they may have on any matter raised by the programme.

Even better, I invite you to visit the College and speak with students from very disadvantage backgrounds who will tell you why St. Patrick’s is so important and that no other institution offered them a comparable opportunity. 

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