Plans for a technological university in Munster look in doubt after Limerick Institute of Technology withdrew from the proposed collaboration.
Although it said it was pausing further development of the planned joint venture with Cork and Tralee ITs, it did not say for what period, or whether it intends to return to the project at all.
Instead, LIT said, it has decided to prioritise collaboration with partner colleges University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College, and IT Tralee.
The implications of the decision are unclear, but the college said it reviewed its future position following Education Minister Ruairi Quinn’s address to third-level bosses and policy papers published by the Higher Education Authority.
“This decision, which was unanimous and has met with broad support among external and internal stakeholders... reflects the ambition of LIT to set the standard for a strong institute of technology sector as envisaged by Minister Quinn,” a statement said.
Government plans for the restructuring of higher education include setting up a technological university sector focused more on technological links and relationships with industry than traditional universities.
A spokesperson for CIT said last night that a communication it received from LIT was being discussed at senior level. “Until these discussions, which are ongoing, are concluded, it would be inopportune to comment. CIT remains committed to the process of engagement with all its partners and stakeholders.”
LIT said it would continue to meet national and regional policy objectives as an autonomous institution, but its alliance with other colleges in the region will now be deepened.
But LIT lecturer Frank Houghton said the decision will harm the college and people of the Mid-West, by reinforcing the divisions of a third-level system in which there is a real status difference between universities and institutes of technology.
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