Friday 18 October 2019

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CIT merger postponed

Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019 4:57pm

The merging of CIT and IT Tralee has been officially postponed for at least six months by the Department of Education, the Cork Independent can reveal.

Two letters were sent to the staff and students of both colleges on Tuesday. One was from the presidents of the colleges and the other was from Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh explaining the conditions which the colleges must comply with in order to meet the criteria to become the Munster Technological University (MTU).

This includes preparing further data, information and evidence and must be compiled by the end of quarter one 2020.

Minister McHugh has asked for a plan, for example, as to how the institutes can increase the percentage of full-time academic staff with a doctoral or appropriate equivalent from at least 45 to 65 per cent within ten years. He also asked for a plan to show how it will increase the amount of research students from four to seven per cent as well as other actions.

IT Tralee’s debts are also mentioned in Minister McHugh’s letter, seen by the newspaper, to Bob Savage, CIT chairperson and Lionel Alexander, IT Tralee chairperson.

He said: “I also note that the report of the advisory panel raised questions regarding the resolution of financial deficits at IT Tralee, stating that the panel did not receive information about plans to address them.”

It’s understood that a financial plan will be finalised soon, and on receipt of this plan, the Higher Education Authority will assess it and engage further with the Kerry college if necessary.

In the joint letter from the institutes to staff and the student body, which was also seen by the Cork Independent, it said that the postponement is necessary to allow institutes, as the MTU Consortium, to meet a number of conditions as set out in the letter from Minister McHugh.

An excerpt from the letter said: “That designation as a technological university is postponed, is of course disappointing. However, our application is still in process with every prospect of success when our response is reviewed within six months by the expert panel.

“The conditions set by the Minister extend to the setting up of a joint committee of our governing bodies to oversee the MTU project and the continuation of the Project Management Team with additional support of external expertise in higher education. We have already taken action in these latter respects.”

The presidents said in the letter: “The joint Governing Body (GB) Sub-committee has been established and its first meeting will take place on 16 October. We have appointed Professor Ellen Hazelkorn and Mr Tom Boland to support the Project Management Team, reporting at this joint GB Sub-committee.

“As presidents, completing the work towards designation of the institutes as the MTU is our foremost priority. We have all of the necessary elements in place to make a strong and successful MTU and with a shared, concerted effort we are confident we will achieve a positive designation for MTU in Q1 2020,” the letter added.

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