Wednesday, June 03, 2020

“We have witnessed many voices articulate ill-informed views on the project.”

IT Carlow President Dr Patricia Mulcahy and her WIT counterpart, Professor Willie Donnelly.
Photo: George Goulding

The President of Carlow’s Institute of Technology (ITC) has told staff that financial challenges and legacy issues must be addressed in furthering the bid to achieve Technological University (TU) status in co-operation with Waterford IT (WIT).

However, in an all-staff email issued this week, Dr Patricia Mulcahy stated: “At times like this, on this journey, the Institute has witnessed many voices articulate ill-informed views on the project.  The Institute will continue to refrain from entering into this type of public discourse and debate, which only serves to divide and distract from our core ambition of delivering a significantly enhanced higher education provision in our regions though a viable and sustainable TU of international repute.”

In a message which updated colleagues on the Technological University of South East Ireland (TUSEI) project, Dr Mulcahy congratulated Cork and Tralee IT’s upgrading to TU status, which will see both merging to become the Munster Technological University (MTU).

“We acknowledge that they have been on this journey for over eight years, working collaboratively and diligently to achieve this outcome, while overcoming many challenges,” she writes.

“I can assure you that the management of both Carlow and Waterford (ITs) are further encouraged to overcome the challenges that are currently facing our South East consortium to ensure the delivery of a TU for our region.”

Dr Mulcahy stated: “As with most things in life, the availability of sufficient economic resources can impede or slow down progress on key strategic initiatives. In the case of TUSEI the financial challenges are significant, both in addressing legacy issues and integrated university academic models.

“During the current academic year, representations have been made to the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education and Skills, and meetings have taken place with stakeholder representatives, in order to move the project forward. Dialogue is also ongoing within our own Institute in identifying potential solutions to address these challenges. I am confident that with the support of the incoming Government, the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA, as well as all stakeholders within the institutes and regions, that we will be in a position to deliver a TU.”

Just under a year ago, Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) members at ITC rejected a proposal on working conditions by 60 per cent, while members in WIT voted 93 per cent in favour.

It’s been suggested that staff in Carlow believed they would face greater changes to their work practices when compared to what WIT staff were likely to face in a merged regional entity.

The Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) rejected by ITC’s TUI membership sought to establish a framework for dealing with industrial relations in the proposed TU.

According to Dr Richard Hayes, WIT’s Vice President for Strategy: “Work on the (TUSEI) application is ongoing and the focus is on delivering a top quality university for the South East and that’s a point which sometimes gets missed in the conversation around the application process and getting things over the line. We have to focus on delivering a top-quality university for this region and that requires time, effort and, most importantly of all that we bring the staff along with us in that process.”

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