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The Technological Universities Bill before the Oireachtas contains adverse implications for third level education.
With TDs on an election footing, the Bill may be passed by both, largely empty, houses before the Dáil rises this month without proper debate.
The bill requires ITs to merge to achieve university status. Universities? Why not? After all, the institutes deliver a range of high quality qualifications including doctorates along with apprenticeship training not available in a university.
And these institutes have opened high quality, affordable and accessible higher education to a wide regional demographic.
They have provided our country with a highly skilled graduate workforce and have done so at considerably less cost than alternatives.
But why must they merge? Is this bill the ‘Irish Water’ of higher education? Is the goal the creation of universities or is it a short-sighted attempt to rationalise the sector and save money?
The bill as framed contains several elements that could harm the sector. It does not protect the sector’s successful regional provision.
It could also be a negative for IT staff, for students due to changed fees and ‘loan chemes’ and it could also undermine access to the IT.
We appeal to Government to take seriously the many issues that have been identified with the bill and allow time for proper debate.
Merge in haste, repent at leisure.
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