ELECTION 2020: Fine Gael promise Technological University of South East as part of €90m plan
The Education Minister has promised a Technological University for the South East within the next five years if Fine Gael is returned to power.
Minister Joe McHugh made the announcement alongside Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the launch of Fine Gael’s educational policy.
Aside from a €90m fund promised to create four new Technological Universities, one each in the South East, Connaught /North West, Cork/Kerry and Limerick/Athlone, the minister also committed to a 25% increase in capitation funding for schools; the creation of free school travel; and the creation of a free book scheme for primary schools.
The ministers also committed to bringing class sizes down by reducing the current 1:25 teacher-to-student ratio but would not commit to exact figures.
In reference to the creation of a Technological University in Waterford and the South East, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “I would hope that two or three of the TUs can be established in the next two to three years, but the fourth may take a little longer, as there are three Institutes of Technology involved (Connaught/North West).”
Late last year the government approved €2.06m in funding in an effort to get the Technological University of the South East of Ireland (TUSEI) project over the line.
The money was provided under the Higher Education Authority 2019 funding to assist the restructuring, consolidation and collaborative project which needs to be completed before combining the colleges of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and Institute of Technology, Carlow (IT Carlow).
This was essential as plans to merge the two I.Ts hit the rocks last June when staff members at IT Carlow voted against agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutes over concerns regarding working practices in WIT which differ from those in IT Carlow, and the financial situation at the college in Waterford.
If TUSEI does happen, the merger would see the creation of a university with over 18,000 students and nearly 2,000 staff.