Timeframe for set-up of technological universities is uncertain

The timeframe for the establishment of technological universities remains uncertain as Education Minister Richard Bruton prepares to discuss concerns of staff and others about the plans.

The creation of technological universities (TUs) was suggested six years ago in the Hunt Report which set the agenda for higher education up to 2030.

Although a bill aimed at giving legal standing to the process to set them up was introduced in December 2015, Mr Bruton acknowledged last week a significant number of matters around it have been raised.

“It is my intention to consult with all of the relevant stakeholders in relation to both the matters raised during the legislative process and the commitments contained in the Programme for Government,” he said in reply to a Dáil question.

The minister now plans to advance the bill after forming a position on any matters arising from those consultations.

One of the key concerns about previous education minister Jan O’Sullivan’s bill is the requirement for two or more institutes of technology (ITs) to merge before seeking designation as a TU. That requirement has been in place since the Higher Education Authority set out rules governing the process to achieve TU status in 2012.

Plans are already being drawn up on that basis by management of the ITs in Cork and Tralee, and by three in Dublin to formally merge. Work is less advanced between Waterford and Carlow, and between the Galway-Mayo, Letterkenny and Sligo (ITs).

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents 4,000 academic staff at ITs, opposes mandatory mergers and claimed they are more about saving costs than any educational considerations. Its members have been on low-scale industrial action since last April to demonstrate their concerns. “In its current form, the bill poses a number of significant threats to the institute of technology sector, its regional remit and the working conditions of academic staff,” TUI president Joanne Irwin said.

“We are deeply concerned by the threats posed to national collective bargaining and the terms and conditions of our members,” she said.

A crux in the policy around mergers could come from last year’s Programme for Government between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance. While promising support for the creation of TUs, it says the merger requirement can be reviewed if it can be proven that, for geographical reasons, a merger is not feasible.

More on this topic

SNAs to help children with disabilities during crisis, Department of Education saysSNAs to help children with disabilities during crisis, Department of Education says

Learning Points: Get creative to keep the family ticking overLearning Points: Get creative to keep the family ticking over

Students urged to ignore speculation about exams and keep focused on studies  Students urged to ignore speculation about exams and keep focused on studies

Secondary school principals warn of burnoutSecondary school principals warn of burnout


Lifestyle

As online retailers report record sales in loungewear, classic cuffed sweatpants have become a hot ticket item. Already a go-to look for off-duty celebs, the humble sweatsuit cemented its status when Tom Ford showed 80s-inspired grey marl sportswear pieces in his autumn winter collection earlier this year.Fashion: don't sweat it!

Seeking inspiration for all that extra time at home? Use it to discover the art of cooking and baking with your children.Fun & Food: The family that cooks together...

W E DON’T have a large amount of activities to do right now. So why not get a larger mount? If those opening lines give you a headache, don’t worry — at least you weren’t hit on the head with a mace.GameTech: Bannerlord flies the flag for escapism

Our window on the world opens wide for tonight.Homes from Mayo, Tyrone and Cork tonight on RTÉ series Home of the Year

More From The Irish Examiner