Colleges meet to review merger

The governing bodies of Cork and Tralee institutes of technology met yesterday to decide whether to speed up a merger necessary to apply for technological university status.

Colleges meet to review merger

However, the colleges were not prepared to reveal the outcome last night. A spokesperson said a statement was likely to issue this morning.

Both Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee hope to apply to become the Munster Technological University in 2017 or 2018.

They were urged by international experts in December to speed up the necessary merger, which was not planned until August 2016.

But advancing the plans could trigger industrial action by academic staff unhappy about the process.

The law underpinning the proposed TU sector has yet to be published, but Jan O’Sullivan, the education minister, says it will require two or more institutes to merge before an application for the upgraded status.

Before yesterday’s meeting of CIT’s governing body, TUI officers handed in a petition signed this week by more than half of their 545 members at the college, calling on the board to call off the decision to proceed with the merger.

If both colleges decide to push ahead, TUI members at CIT will be balloted the week after next, which could lead to industrial action involving non-co-operation with the process, up to strike action.

A similar vote is planned of members of the union’s branch at IT Tralee.

Despite staff concerns, student leaders at both campuses support the merger idea.

Michael Linehan, the president of CIT’s students’ union, said they recognise a number of uncertainties for academic staff.

“I would be of the opinion that the uncertainties need to be addressed in the short term.

“But going forward, the student union is still in favour of the merger,” Mr Linehan told the Irish Examiner ahead of yesterday’s governing body meeting at CIT.

He said that students do not want to be affected by industrial action, particularly in the approach to exams.

Ben Slimm, president of IT Tralee’s students’ union, said he hopes any industrial action would have minimum effect on students.

“Students are very positive about the merger, there’s been no real backlash from the research we’ve done with them. Obviously TUI has concerns, our primary concern is making sure students are happy with the merger process,” he said.

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