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Cit nearer to university status

Thursday, 6th June, 2013 3:00am

Cork Institute of Technology is one step nearer to gaining technology university status following the report of the Higher Education Authority recommendation to merge with Tralee Institute of Technology.

Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, announced the reorganization of the higher education system last week, along with the announcement that regional clusters between universities and stronger ITs.

“It gives us the recognition to continue the level of activities that we are currently at,” said one spokesperson from CIT on the announcement.

“It allows to continue our work that is already at university level and do what we do, but even better.”

The merger will allow institutions to  develop  degrees and research further without the possibility of doubling up on operation, thus leaving more freedom to expand in certain areas of research. The new university is expected to have 11,900 students, 1,200 staff along with an income of €135m and a research income of €16m.

"A new relationship between the state and the 39 publicly funded higher education institutes will be implemented,” said the Minister.

“This will allow the system to respond in a more coherent way to national priorities set down by the Government and  provide graduates with the skills and qualifications that are essential for Ireland's social and economic well-being.  A new performance  framework will be put in place to increase the transparency and accountability of institutions for delivery of agreed performance outcomes.

“It marks a new era for students and other stakeholders of the system," he said.

Waterford Institute of technology and Carlow Institute of Technology will also attain university status, along with Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght and Institute of Technology Blanchardstown. The regional cluster for the south/south east will include CIT, University College Cork, Cork IT, IT Tralee, Waterford IT and IT Carlow.

Evaluation

The next stage for each of the applications will be the preparation of a plan to meet the criteria for technological university status. The plans will be evaluated by an independent expert international panel that will decide if the applicant can meet the agreed criteria in the proposed timetable and can proceed to the final stage.

It's understood that degrees would concentrate on emerging industries such as cloud computing, which can be done remotely.  

“The actions recommended in this report will need the ongoing and concerted commitment of the HEA working closely with individual institutions and their staff to ensure that Irish higher education is sustainable, successful and competitive,” said John Hennessy, chairman of the higher education authority.

“This requires institutions to develop a strong vision that reflects their mission. Over time, these changes will ensure that the higher education system plays its full part in Ireland's social and economic development and in the enrichment of our cultural and intellectual life.

The re-configuration of higher education follows on from the  National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030  (the Hunt report) that set out a series of objectives for a reformed system.  

Boost

Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central, Jerry Buttimer, welcomed the news that a new  university  is to be created and said it would provide a boost for the entire region.

“The creation of new technological universities will be a real boost for third level education in Cork,” said Mr Buttimer.

“The Government has decided to implement a recommendation to allow three groups of institutes of technology to progress towards technological university status. I know from my meetings with management at CIT that much work has been done by all staff to position the institution so that it is ready to make this important and significant change. Now that the interest by CIT and ITT has been given the go-ahead to proceed to the next phase of this transition the potential benefits of a new university in Cork have come one step closer."

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