Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 14 January 2016
Committee on Education and Social Protection: Select Sub-Committee on Education and Skills
Technological Universities Bill 2015: Committee Stage
The main purpose of the Bill is to provide for the establishment of technological universities, which is a new type of higher education institution, to be formed through the consolidation and merger of existing institutes of technology. Chapter 3 of Part 2 provides a general mechanism for the merging of consortiums of institutes of technology to form new institutions of greater scale. This mechanism includes assessment by an expert panel of their application to merge. In 2014, consortiums in Dublin, made up of DIT and the institutes of technology in Blanchardstown and Tallaght, and in Munster, made up of Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee, were assessed by an international expert panel and found to be on a clear trajectory to meet the very robust performance and quality criteria that had been set down for merging institutes which wished to apply for the new technological university status.
Therefore, these consortiums have already completed the stage of the process set down in Chapter 3 of Part 2 and are working towards a full merger in the near future. For that reason, Chapter 1 provides for the merging of DIT with IT, Blanchardstown and IT, Tallaght while Chapter 2, including sections 10 and 11, provides for the merging of CIT and IT, Tralee, as the next steps of the process on which those institutions have embarked. To be clear, these are not forced mergers, as characterised by some. Each of the consortiums has of its own accord come together to work towards achieving technological university status. The purpose of Chapters 1 and 2 of Part 2, including sections 10 and 11, is simply to ensure that these consortiums are not required to go back to square one and be reassessed by an expert panel. For that reason, the proposal by the Deputy that sections 7 and 10 be deleted from the Bill cannot be supported. Essentially, it is to facilitate the process which is ongoing.