The existing provisions and functions of governing bodies were reframed. The governing bodies reserved the functions in relation to the appointment of the director and staff was amended. The function in relation to committees was strengthened.
The colleges are, in so far as possible to contribute to the promotion of economic, cultural and social development of the State and in respect of the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society.
References to the HEA are substituted for references to the VEC committees in relation to governance.
The Director appointed by the governing body is the accountable person. Generally, the Minister is replaced by the authority in relation to the determination of selection procedures for the director.
The principal Act was amended in relation to staffing, allowing for greater autonomy on the part of colleges. There are provisions for new and existing staff members. A governing body may delegate functions to staff.
There is provision for payment of remuneration, fees, allowances and expenses with the consent of the Minister for Education with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance.
There is provision for payment to college staff by certain companies or undertakings. The education sector superannuation scheme is to apply to the college and members of staff.
New provision was made for the appointment of staff and terms and conditions. The college may dismiss a member of staff in accordance with procedures and conditions determined by the college after consultation with recognised staff representative groups. The requirement for Ministerial consent is removed.
Budget and Finance
Former provisions regarding grants to the college being made by the Minister is replaced by effective new funding and institutional arrangements with the Higher Education Authority.
The Higher Education Authority rather than the vocational education committee and the Minister approve the college’s budgets and allocate monies to colleges and monies provided by it. The arrangements are similar to those applicable to universities. The college is obliged to supply the Authority with a statement of proposed expenditure and the Authority shall determine the college’s budget having regard to it.
The Director of the college is responsible for carrying the budget into effect. If the proposed course of action or expenditure is likely to cause an excess on the budget allocated, he must inform the governing body.
If the governing body decides not to reduce expenditure and decides to continue with the course of action, he is obliged to advise the Authority unless he has changed his opinion. If an excess in the budget is caused, which cannot be met from resources other than the college’s allocation from the Authority, the excess will be a first charge on the budget for the following year.
The college may borrow and underwrite borrowings to the extent of agreements between the college and the Authority following consultations with the Minister for Education and Minister for Finance.
Accounts are to be approved by the Authority. The audit of such accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General remains. The Authority takes over the role of the VEC.
Reserved to Goeverning Body
A range of functions are to be reserved to the governing body and to be taken and decided only with the resolution of the governing body.
- provision of courses of study.
- engagement with both the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and the Further Education and Training Awards Council for the purpose of making awards.
- engaging in research consultancy and development work.
- engaging with other institutions to provide joint courses, research, consultancy or development work.
- entering arrangements to exploit research, consultancy and development work undertaken.
- awarding scholarships and prizes.
- managing assets of the college.
- accepting gifts of money lend on trust and conditions that are contrary to the legislation.
- appointing a Director.
- appointing the academic council.
- requiring the Director to prepare a strategic plan for the college and approving this plan, providing it to the Authority and Minister.
- requiring the Director to prepare a statement of policies of the college with regard to disabled access, access for persons who are socially and economically disadvantaged or from sections of society significantly underrepresented in the student body.
- equality including gender equality.
- establishing written procedures for dispute resolution other than industrial disputes, a resolution which is to fall under existing structures following consultation with staff, student representative groups.
Office of Director
A Director will manage and direct the academic, administrative, financial, personnel and other activities of the college. This is subject to the policies determined by the governing body. The Director is answerable to the governing body for the efficient and effective management of the college, and his/her performance.
The Director may not hold any other office without the consent of the governing body. The Director is entitled to be a member of and preside over any committee appointed by the governing body except where the governing body with the concurrence of the authority decides otherwise. The Director is entitled to be a member of the academic council and if in attendance is to preside.
The term of office of the Director is set at 10 years, unless he or she of resigns or is removed from office. The Director is designated as the person to give evidence to the committee on public accounts as to the regularity and propriety of the college’s accounts, economy and efficiency of the college in using resources and of the systems and procedures in place for evaluating the effectiveness of its operations and of other matters as may be referred to in a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. In so doing, he shall not question or express an opinion on the merits of any government policy.
The Director may also be required to account for the performance of college’s functions to a committee of one or both Houses of the Oireachtas and shall have regard to any recommendations of the committee in relation to those functions.