27 July. 2015 - Minister O’Sullivan publishes report on the consultation and engagement process on a Technological University for the South-East and next steps

Establishment of a Technological University for the South-East viable and can be delivered within a reasonable timescale. Plan for facilitation to be developed for consideration by both Governing Bodies at end August.

Minister O’Sullivan today published the report on the consultation and engagement process and expressed her gratitude to Mr. Michael Kelly for undertaking such an extensive engagement with stakeholders: “Mr. Kelly has undertaken a very thorough and extensive consultation process with regional stakeholders and I want to put on record my thanks to him for engaging so comprehensively on this issue and for his considered analysis of the situation which is set out in the report.”

Mr Kelly has met with stakeholders in all of the counties of the region as part of the consultation process and this includes governing bodies, presidents’, staff and students of the two institutes, Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, Employers, the Enterprise Development Agencies, Social and Community Groups as well as public representatives.

The Minister highlighted that “The report presents a compelling rationale for a new type of higher education institution to support a “step-change” in the economic and social development of the entire South-East region. This is clearly the overwhelming wish of stakeholders in the region.”

Acknowledging the difficulties encountered during the TU South-East project in the past, the Minister stated that “There are lessons to be learnt for all of us from the analysis set out in Michael Kelly’s report. We should all reflect on what needs to be done differently in future.”

Mr. Kelly has recommended a number of steps and structures to support the project.

“Our strong focus now has to be on what’s best for the South-East region. We have to focus on the future and the real prize which will be the creation of an entirely new type of higher education institution. This is an exciting opportunity and it needs to be nurtured and developed with strong engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders.”

The Minister met with the Chairs and Presidents of both institutes on Tuesday 21st July to discuss the findings and recommendations in the report. It was agreed with the Chairs and Presidents that a project plan for a process of facilitation would be developed by mid-August for consideration at Governing Body meetings planned for end-August. The facilitation process is the first step recommended by Mr. Kelly.

The Minister commended the leadership of both institutions: “The leadership of both institutions have put forward an ambitious vision for a new type of institution and that’s what we need to build on and take forward.”

Commenting on the publication of the report, President of ITC, Dr. Patricia Mulcahy said: “I want to thank the Minister for her continued support and for commissioning this process. I welcome the publication of Michael’s report and thank him for undertaking such an extensive consultation process. I look forward to moving forward on this project in the best interests of all stakeholders in the South-East.”

Professor Willie Donnelly, President of WIT added: "The establishment of a Technological University for the South-East is necessary for the optimum social and economic development of the region. Michael Kelly's positive view that its creation is feasible and that this can be achieved within a reasonable time-frame is welcome. WIT continues to be fully committed to the delivery of a Technological University for the region.”

The other recommendations made by Mr. Kelly will be considered by the Minister, the Department of Education and Skills, the Higher Education Authority and relevant institutes in the coming months.

The report is available at:  http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/Engagement-and-Consultation-Process-on-a-Technological-University-for-the-South-East.pdf

ENDS

Notes for Editors

The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, published in January 2011, recommended the consolidation of the Institute of Technology sector and creation of a small number of multi-campus technological universities.

The process for designation as a technological university consists of four stages and requires the merger of two or more institutes of technology prior to application for designation as a TU.

The Technological University for the South-East project was initiated in 2011 and consists of a consortium of two Institutes of Technology; Institute of Technology Carlow (ITC) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

The TU South-East consortium made good progress initially and submitted a Stage 1 expression of interest in 2012. However, following this initial promising start, the consortium encountered a series of challenges and difficulties and did not succeed in finalising a Stage 2 Plan prior to the decision by WIT to suspend merger activities in October 2014.

In early November 2014, Minister O’Sullivan announced the establishment of a new process of engagement and consultation, with the governing bodies, staff and students of both Institutes, together with the wider community in the South-East. Mr. Michael Kelly was appointed to lead the process of consultation.