Dáil debates

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science: Statements


4:20 pm

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister's update on his work and that of his Department. Much has been achieved to date and it is to be commended.

I welcome the €50 million announced today for third level students for a once-off payment of €250 to each student. It was a welcome announcement for the almost 5,000 students of the Institute of Technology, Carlow and St. Patrick's College in Carlow. I spoke to some students today and there was great excitement among them.

As a Deputy for Carlow-Kilkenny, I particularly welcome the progress made to date on the technological university for the south east, TUSE, and the work being carried out by the TUSEI consortium. The investment in the south-east region is significant and the proposed establishment of the TUSE through the merging of the Institute of Technology, Carlow and Waterford Institute of Technology in creating critical mass will generate many opportunities for the region, including links with industry and enhanced access to education.

I cannot let the opportunity pass without mentioning another excellent college, St. Patrick's College in Carlow, which plays a significant role in the higher education landscape in the south east region, with a concentrated expertise in the delivery of programmes in the arts, humanities and social science. Founded in 1782, Carlow College has pursued its education mission over 238 years during which the regional, national and international context has been continually evolved and changed. I fully understand and agree that the establishment of the technological university for the south east is the number one priority for the Minister, his Department and the Government. However, I will also be looking for his support, and that of his Department, in ensuring that no stone is left unturned in progressing the full integration of St. Patrick's College in Carlow into the higher education system in the south east region.

I am aware the Minister is as committed as I am to enshrine the provision of science, gender equality and multidisciplinary students across all regions of Ireland.

I welcome the Minister's enthusiasm in supporting the efforts to enhance technological university status for Carlow and the south east. This is a wonderful time in education. A technological university for the south east, consisting of Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Carlow, is exciting. It is great for the south east. It is and has always been very important to me, and to Carlow in particular, that we can set out its stall for attracting foreign investment, foreign students, local investment and local students as well as wider community investment to improve towns and villages in the vicinity. I also welcome the appointment of Mr. Tom Boland.

I have been speaking to students, including today, and they very much need to get back on campus. Most of them are working from home and it is an issue that has been raised with me in the past few months.

I look forward to all the great plans the Minister's Department has for higher and further education in Carlow. I will support him at every opportunity in that regard. This is crucial for the south east and it will bring so much to the south east area and to my area of Carlow, where I met the Minister on several occasions and he was always very supportive. Hopefully, we will deliver. As the Minister said, 2022 is the timescale for having a technological university for the south east and that is excellent news.


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