Munster ITs hit back at merger funding debate

Cork IT and Tralee IT have said that the proposed merger of the two colleges will not be funded through cuts in services.

The two ITs are the latest institutes of technology to plan to merge in what is expected to cost €6.7 million.

“We will not require additional efficiencies in order to meet these costs,” a Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) statement read.

“Additional funding, if it were to become available, would be utilised to fund developments which would allow the new university to begin to deliver an economic dividend, conservatively calculated to be many multiples of the costs of merger, to the region and beyond.”

In a joint statement, the governing bodies of CIT and ITT said they were “very confident” they would meet the criteria for such designation, and also moved to reassure staff that they would be fully consulted on developments.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents lecturing staff at the two institutes, has expressed fears the merger will undermine educational standards and is balloting members on industrial action.

However, it welcomed the statement from the governing bodies, which the union interpreted as evidence that the merger process “has been slowed down”.“A stop has been put to the gallop of the MTU [Munster Technological University] consortium,” the union said.

But the TUI said it was continuing to progress its dispute both through the Labour Relations Commission and balloting, the results of which would be known next week.

At separate Oireachtas committee hearings last month, Tom Boland, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, said any mergers would have to be done in an “innovative, shoestring sort of way” in the absence of additional state funding. It was expected most of the costs would be covered by “efficiencies” and raising funds through other sources, he said.

In its statement, the governing bodies of CIT and ITT said: “This is an exciting time for our two institutions and the achievement of technological university designation promises a broad range of benefits and opportunities for our students, staff and other stakeholders.”

Joseph Moore

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