Thursday, 4 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
In returning to the question of what is a technological university, and I shared some of my views in my initial answer, I would also make the point that the answer must also partially reside in the region, because while Dublin, the Government or the Oireachtas can grant technological university status and is happy to do so, and we have a responsibility in capital funding, policies and efforts we can put in place, it is a partnership approach and it cannot be an adversarial approach of, "What are they doing for us up there in Dublin?"
It must be about asking what can we do with this new powerhouse in the region. It must be about engaging with the regional skills forum. It must be about sitting down with the local business community, saying we are going to have a university in our region and asking the community what the skills needs are in counties Waterford, Carlow or Wexford. We should ask what we want to be the best in the country or the best in the world at and how do we put the programmes in place to do that. As I said at our meeting of Oireachtas Members this week, I encourage everybody in the south east, as I know the Deputy will too, to do that engagement. They should get the business community and the regional skills forum in. They should talk to the colleges of further education, the schools, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. They should ask what the unique selling point of the south-east region is going to be. Then they should absolutely come to me and put pressure on me to be forthcoming with resources. I assure the Deputy the Government he and I are part of will not be found wanting in that regard.
On the headquarters, it is a statement of fact to say the law and the process is clear that decision will reside with the first governing authority. However, it is still okay to have a view and my view is Waterford sounds like a very logical location. It is logical because of the size of the footprint of the institute of technology already there, because we are going to expand it even further in terms of capital projects and also within the context of other Government initiatives and policies around national planning frameworks and the like as well. Legally, it is a decision for others but I think Waterford has a very compelling case. On the president, the recruitment process is vested with the outgoing governing authorities of the institutes of technology but it will be a full international search and I am confident it will be a very robust process. On capital, the Deputy's argument is compelling and well-made and I will work with him to advance these issues.