Wednesday, 19th March 2008
There was a quieter response than expected from local and national representatives with the news that Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) will now be joined by their Cork counterparts, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), in the quest for re-designation after launching their formal application last week.
Dublin Institute of Technology already had a re-designation application in but the addition of CIT brings the number of Institutes of Technology seeking University designation to three, which is more than 20% of the Institutes nationally. If all three were successful, would bring the number of universities in the 26 counties to ten.
The CIT application comes less than three whole days after Fine Gael representatives, nationally and regionally as well as locally, came to Waterford announcing their new higher education policy, supporting the proposal for a regional university for the South East.
A spokesperson for CIT told Waterford Today Newspaper that it was a recommendation in the Port Report that allowed them to apply to become a ‘technological university'.
The CIT spokesperson added: "It would be a different type of institution. We would see ourselves as a complement to a traditional traditional type of University".
The CIT governing body of 19 members, headed by Dr. Paddy Caffrey, voted unanimously in favour of applying for University Status.
Adding to the media statement, the spokesperson for CIT said that they are already operating at University level and that they conduct many joint degrees with University College Cork (UCC) while the spokesperson added that they see themselves at a similar level as WIT.
In response to the application by Cork Institute of Technology, Fine Gael Senator, Paudie Coffey told Waterford Today Newspaper the Cork IT application will not change his party's support of both WIT and DIT to be re-designated as Universities.
Also, when asked if the CIT bid would be damaging in any way to the WIT bid, Senator Coffey, said: "None whatsoever. Waterford's bid will be judged on its merits….We are certainly hoping that our policy will put pressure on the government to act in a common sense way.'
Fine Gael spokesperson for Education, Brian Hayes, said that their policy of supporting both the DIT and WIT bid for university status while establishing an umbrella body for the other twelve Institutes of Technology would not change.
On the development, Deputy Hayes, who came to Waterford last week to publicly support the Waterford bid, said: "We have set out our position…I think that the ‘me too' will continue around the country. The government need to make a decision on this".
The issue of other Institutes of Technology was explored on at least four of the 25 page plus Port Report published last month by the Department of Education and Science.
Representatives for WIT released a statement to the media last Thursday stating ‘it is primarily a matter between the Cork Institute and Government'.
The same statement to the media from WIT representatives also said: "It is not a matter for us to comment on the ambitions of any other higher education institution and this obviously also applies in the current instance."
Waterford Today Newspaper contacted the Minister for Education's Dublin office for comment and a spokesperson for the Minister said: "Applications for university status are considered in the context of the national strategy for the development of Irish higher education, and the implications for the overall structure of higher education in Ireland".
However, a spokesperson for Minister Hanafin's Department added: "In publishing the report, which is specifically on the Waterford application, Minister Hanafin has said that it provides a useful analysis of the context in which any application for designation as a university must be considered. The Minister hopes that publication of the report will provide an overview of the complex issues involved and encourage an informed debate, nationally and regionally on the issue and help inform final consideration of the matter."
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