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In the wake of the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bailout in Ireland, the Fine Gael victory in February’s general election ushered in two key minister appointments: Ruairi Quinn TD as Minister for Education and Skills and Richard Bruton as Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation. Quinn, a former Minister of Finance and leader of the Labour Party, is no stranger to politics. Likewise, Bruton has previously held his new post during Fine Gael’s last “rainbow” coalition government (1995-1997).
In the first major initiatives in their new posts, Ministers Quinn and Bruton launched Education for Ireland, a marketing drive to encourage incoming student mobility. The plan, which is part of the Government for National Recovery 2011-2016 programme, seeks to double the number of international students studying in Irish higher education institutions by 2015. According to the Department of Education and Skills, there are approximately 26 000 international students within Irish institutions. Further consensus between the Labour Party and Fine Gael is signalled by their agreement (for now) to charge no tuition to Irish higher education students.
In Denmark, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen appointed Troels Lund Poulsen as the new Minister of Education on 8 March 2011. Poulsen, who previously served as Minister for Taxation, will oversee the country’s university colleges (tertiary institutions offering bachelor’s programmes in professional areas such as teacher training, engineering, nursing, health, business and social work). This ministerial appointment should be seen in a broader context. The discharge of immigration minister Rønn Hornbech may signal a restructuring of Prime Minister Rasmussen’s cabinet ahead of the parliamentary elections in November 2011.
Department of Education and Skills – Ireland