A significant milestone has been reached by the application to establish a Technological University (TU) for the South-East and must now be examined without delay, Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has said.
Senator Cummins was speaking after his Fine Gael colleague, Minister Simon Harris confirmed he will carefully consider the application and the requisite reports and views on it before a decision is reached.
“This is a very significant milestone for the application to establish a TU for the South-East, which has been worked on extensively for many years. I want to acknowledge the tireless work of staff, management and students who have been involved in the process across numerous working groups,” Senator Cummins said.
“I hope this application is adjudicated on without delay. The South-East region has waited long enough.
“It is important to note this application has been endorsed by the business community across the region and the Presidents, Chairs, governing bodies and students’ unions at both Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and IT Carlow. Equally it is important to recognise the recent staff vote which although it had a very low turnout it warrants a parallel process being put in place to address any concerns which remain regarding the process.
“I understand the TUI made a decision last night to rerun a ballot and establish engagement forums at a well-attended meeting which is very welcome.
“The Minister will now appoint an international panel of experts in due course to assess the application and recommend or not the formal establishment of a technological university in the South-East which is essential to reverse the brain drain which has been evident for too long.
“The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Harris are on record as saying the new TU will be centred in Waterford and have committed to the expansion of the campus here to facilitate the expected growth in student numbers.
“Indeed, Minister Harris agreed with me earlier this year in the Seanad that the only logical place the HQ of the new university could be was in the campus that has the most full-time students.
“I am aware that Minister Harris wrote to Professor Willie Donnelly earlier this month, further expressing his commitment to investment in the future TU for the South-East and he noted the requirements set out by Waterford and Carlow IT under the recent review of the capital development plan.
“I also understand WIT have appointed a working group to progress the acquisition of further land to enable the campus to expand. Following my request, the Minister confirmed at a meeting of SE Oireachtas members that officials from his department would collaborate with WIT regarding this process and I look forward to this progressing.
“I wish the staff, management and students every success with the international panel and I look forward to engaging with Minister Harris with regards to the appointment of the first members of the new Governing body,” Senator Cummins said.