Fianna Fáil Press Office

Cllr Jim O’Callaghan
Dublin Bay South

03 February 2016

Minister for Education is misguided over merger of ITs – O’Callaghan

Fianna Fáil councillor and election candidate for Dublin Bay South, Jim O’Callaghan has strongly criticised Labour Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, for her misguided decision to push ahead with forcing a merger between institutes of technology.

Speaking following a day of strike action by lecturers and staff in the Institutes of Technology (ITs) Cllr O’Callaghan commented:

“There are absolutely no academic or logical reasons for ITs to merge before gaining university status. The Minister’s Technological University Bill does not stand up to basic scrutiny and is clearly just a ruse for rationalisation of the IT sector.

“The Minister’s attempt to force mergers and consolidation is a cost saving measure pure and simple.

“If passed, this Bill will lead to a dramatic reduction in the provision of academic programmes and courses in many institutes. Many counties or regions will lose faculties and academic specialities which would relocate to the neighbouring IT or another location.

“This will have serious repercussions, making third level less accessible for students – especially those from non-traditional backgrounds – by removing education provision from local communities. Yet the Minister is continuing to ignore genuine concerns from staff and students at ITs around Dublin.

“Far from being primed to apply for TU status, ITs are on their knees after four years of devastating budget cuts and underspends.

“In spite of the fact that this government doubled student fees, overall funding to ITs was cut by 25% per student since 2012. Capital Funding to ITs has fallen by about 49%, resulting in crumbing physical and research infrastructure on college campuses.

“Despite the government’s repeated declarations that these cuts have not affected teaching quality in the ITs, this is completely disingenuous. In fact these cuts have decimated the IT sector. By one measure of quality, the Teacher/Lecturer to Student ratios, ITs have gone from amongst the lowest (best) in 2008 to now amongst the highest (worst) in the OECD, with a 24% increase in the ratio in universities and a 22% increase among Institutes of Technologies.
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