Dáil debates

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Third Level Reform

11:50 am

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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15. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the progress on the full integration of Carlow College, St. Patrick's into the higher education system in the south-east region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49806/21]

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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I would like to ask the Minister about the full integration of Carlow College, St. Patrick's into the higher education system in the south east. As the Minister knows, I have met him several times about this issue and it is close to my heart. We are lucky in Carlow that we have two excellent third level colleges, Institute of Technology Carlow and Carlow College, St. Patrick's, and we are delighted that in 2022 the south east will have a technological university. That is important but the issue is with Carlow College, St. Patrick's. What is the update on the integration of that institution into the higher education system in the south east?

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Deputy for the question and for her passionate advocacy, to put it mildly, on Carlow College, St. Patrick's and all things Carlow. I always welcome working with her on these projects and I look forward to us delivering a technological university for the south east in 2022.

As the Deputy knows, Carlow College, St. Patrick's is a privately run education institution operating outside the publicly funded higher education system. At the Deputy's request, I have met the leadership there, including the president, Fr. Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, and I thank them for all their doing and for their commitment to education. Following that engagement between the college and my Department, I met the college principals at their request on 17 August. We are putting a process in place with them so they can analyse and be best prepared to see what role they can play in the context of the new technological university. I understand the college is in the process of appointing an expert to carry out that work. I look forward to visiting Carlow College, St. Patrick's with the Deputy in November. That will be an opportunity for us to progress matters.

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister and we will be delighted to have him in Carlow in November. A technological university will be so important for the south east, particularly for my area of Carlow. As I said, we have two excellent third level institutions and the integration of Carlow College, St. Patrick's into the technological university is so important. As the Minister knows, I have met the Taoiseach on this and I had another meeting with him this morning, so the Minister knows how hard I am working on this and I deliver a 100% commitment. The Taoiseach is behind me so he can confirm I spoke to him this morning. I thank the Minister and the Taoiseach for their support.

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy is upping the pressure on me. The Taoiseach regularly passes on the Deputy's strong advocacy and we are determined to work with her to rectify this matter. I need to point out the technological university will be autonomous in its functions. The decision we are taking to provide expert advice to Carlow College, St. Patrick's is the best way to go about this and I look forward to visiting Carlow in November and to talking to the Deputy about it then.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.