Friday, 30 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Continuing the third level theme, in less than half and hour I am going to be joining Oireachtas Members from the south east in meeting the Minister, Deputy Harris, about the application from Waterford Institute of Technology, WIT, and the Institute of Technology Carlow to become a technological university for the south east. I expect positive news that the application is being submitted. In that context, it is important to state that the application has been endorsed by the presidents of both institutes, by the chairs of the governing bodies, by the bodies themselves and by both student unions. Issues at WIT were highlighted last week by the Teachers' Union of Ireland. Those issues must be addressed but can be addressed in a parallel process. It is important that such a process be put in place in order that the views of staff can be taken on board. It is imperative that we establish a technological university in order to ensure that the brain drain from the south east stops and that students can attain their third level education in a university of international standing within their own region.
I agree with the assertion to the effect that it is essential that we get this right. There is an opportunity here to create a university of international standing. The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science are on record as saying that the new university will be centred in Waterford, with other campuses located throughout the south east, and that there will be further expansion of the Waterford campus. I will be calling on the Minister and the Government to engage further with WIT regarding the acquisition of additional sites. WIT has put a working group in place and I will be asking the Minister to appoint a civil servant to assist it with that process. He has written to Professor Willie Donnelly about progressing that. I wish all the staff, management and students in both institutes every success as the application progresses with the international panel and every success with the university in the future.