Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage
We will not reach agreement on this. That is the reality of Government and Opposition. Genuine concerns have not been addressed and that has led to a situation whereby industrial action is taking place, such as those involved in the Munster technological university proposal. Trade union members feel they have not been listened to or consulted properly. Ultimately, these are the people that will be asked to deliver the high-quality education the Minister stated will be the result of merging institutes to form technological universities.
The Minister has not addressed the issue of the duplication of courses. From reading the documentation, I understand that one of the objectives is to remove course duplication. If the Minister said today that is not the case, perhaps she could be clearer. My understanding is that it is one of the major concern. For instance, if Tralee and Cork both provide the same course and are merged into a technological university, specific campuses would focus on specific areas. Tralee might focus on catering, food and beverage courses and Cork might focus more on metalwork and engineering. Therefore, the courses which are currently provided in both institutes would be eradicated.
We would end up with campuses focusing on particular areas of excellence or expertise. If that is the case, the issue raised by Deputy O'Sullivan, namely, SUSI grants and the ability of students to travel comes into play. Those living in Cork can do practically every course they want in CIT, but under a merged entity, that is, a technological university, there is no guarantee that will remain the case. They may have to travel.