Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr John Lahart
Dublin South West
25 January 2016
Forced IT mergers should not be part of Technological Universities Bill – Lahart
Fianna Fáil candidate for Dublin South West, Cllr John Lahart says Institutes of Technology should not be forced to merge to be given Technological University status. The measure is contained in the much delayed Technological Universities Bill, which was only published before Christmas. Fianna Fáil has raised concerns that these forced mergers could result in reduced access to courses in some of the smaller ITs.
Under the Bill Tallaght IT would be merged with Blanchardstown IT and DIT to form a technological university.
Cllr Lahart commented, “While we support the principle of Technological Universities, Fianna Fáil does not want to see ITs forced to merge; they should be eligible to apply for Technological University status on their own. There is no academic or logical reason for two neighbouring ITs to be given university status based on size, and nothing else. In the Tallaght area there are huge concerns that a merger would see the closure or downgrading of the Tallaght campus.
“It appears that the real reason behind the merger requirement is based on consolidation and cost considerations. If these mergers were to proceed, some institutes are liable to lose faculties and academic specialities, which would have been relocated to the neighbouring IT. This in turn will result in greater inequity in access to higher education, especially for students from non-traditional backgrounds.
“The delay in the publication of this Bill also raises serious questions. As early as January 2015 the Minister said the merger would take place in August but the change in legislation was postponed. No time was left to debate it in the Oireachtas, or for any significant changes to be made. This is typical of this Government’s arrogance and reluctance to listen to concerns from the Opposition and main stakeholders. Fianna Fáil has tabled a number of amendments aimed at preserving access for students in the regions and are urging the Minister to seriously consider them. This would have major implications for Tallaght IT and our concerns need to be taken into consideration,” urged Cllr Lahart.