‘Waterford has been outflanked and overtaken’ – calls for WIT to fight for University status without Carlow unless deadline is met
The Labour Party in Waterford has called for a time limit to be put on the troubled talks process around the proposed Technological University of the South East.
And the party said that unless a deadline for a resolution can be found, Waterford Institute of Technology should go it alone and try to attain university status without IT Carlow.
In a joint statement issued bylocal councillors Seamus Ryan, John Pratt, Ger Barron and Thomas Phelan, the party said: “The current impasse can’t be allowed to continue. Waterford has been outflanked and overtaken within the third-level education sector.
“The President of WIT has already expressed his concerns that the discussions with IT Carlow – which formally began six years ago – are taking too long and is also on record as saying Waterford deserves the title of University in its own right.”
Cllr Ryan said: “It’s a year since an agreed memorandum of understanding was rejected by a 60% majority of Carlow staff after it received 92% support from their WIT counterparts.”
Mayor Pratt (pictured below) added: “It was only the recent approval of the Munster Technological University merger between Cork and Tralee ITs that brought the damaging southeast deadlock into sharp focus.”
Cllr Barron said: “We haven’t even reached the real hurdles, such as funding, the location of a headquarters (which logically must be in Waterford City), and funding for future campus development. It’s an open secret that IT Carlow fears being dominated by Waterford which has over 2,000 more full-time students and superior facilities.”
The party pointed out at that some €3 million has been spent on the TUSE process to date, adding: “The questions the question must be asked – when do we cut our losses and proceed based on what’s actually deliverable? How can the process be facilitated to allow WIT to become a standalone University.”
Waterford Labour chair Michael Murphy added: “Waterford remains the only one of Ireland’s five major cities without a university. Fixing this glaring deficit is critical to retaining and attracting students, as well as inward investment and employment.”
Cllr Phelan said: “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that this forced marriage could be fatally flawed. Indeed, as far back as 1989, when a university link-up with Carlow was first floated, the then-WRTC rejected it as unworkable.”