College Street “is not closing”

A library shot of students at WIT's College Street campus.

A library shot of students at WIT's College Street campus.

Staff at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) are still digesting the news that five per cent of the Institute’s allocated for teaching and learning activities are to be cut ‘from the current year’s schedule’.
However, in response to speculation which this newspaper reported on last Tuesday, a WIT spokesperson denied that the College Street campus is set to be mothballed.
“Waterford Institute of Technology can confirm that the College Street campus is not closing,” a spokesperson told The Munster Express on Thursday last.
“In line with normal business practices, the Institute is reviewing running costs and part of that process is working through multiple scenarios for optimising resources. No decisions on the specifics have yet been agreed.”
This was in response to our report regarding speculation that the College Street campus might be completely shut down within the next year, with all operations to be transferred to the Cork Road campus in the event of such a closure.
A source told this newspaper that College Street is set to be closed during the summer, with the campus library to be permanently closed in advance of the overall closure.
While the official word on College Street may not be as gloomy as first feared, news that teaching hours look set for reduction has left WIT’s teaching staff reeling.
In a memo dated May 12th which has been seen by this newspaper, WIT Registrar Derek O’Byrne informed colleagues: “Following on from the recent executive board discussions and the follow-on meetings I would now confirm the agreement to proceed with the cutting of 5% of the total hours allocated to teaching and learning activities from the current year’s schedule. This is to apply to all Departments & Schools. The baseline for confirming this cut will be the total hours allocated in 2016/7 academic year (semester to semester comparison).”
Mr O’Byrne told staff that the reduction will be confirmed “in terms of the total hours rather than (on) an individual programme to programme basis”.
These reductions may be realised “through a number of possible initiaitves” such as:
* A review of group sizes and re-allocation of students “so as to reduce the total number of ‘class splits’ on a programme”,
* “Removing or not offering electives on programmes”,
* “Reducing first year hours through common entry” or
* “Removing low intake programmes”.
Other matters may also be taken into consideration in due course.
In reaction to last week’s speculation, TD David Cullinane (SF) criticised both the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for making “the staff and students at WIT pay for sustained cuts since 2008″.
He added that the latest cost cutting measures which WIT is now considering has caused “anger and concern with the Institute”.
Said Deputy Cullinane: “In 2008, the total state funding for WIT from core grants and fees was €50,338,226. This was reduced to €32,682,240 by 2016. These cuts are the main reason why the Institute is now in deficit. Rather than accepting this reality and re-investing in WIT the Department and the HEA are overseeing drastic cost containment measures at the Institute.”
Describing the rumours regarding College Street as “deeply worrying,” Deputy Cullinane said that such speculation “could not have come at a worse time for the Institute”.
“The HEA have appointed an external financial adviser to oversee the cuts and has put WIT in a three-year cost cutting programme,” Deputy Cullinane commented.
“It is making students and staff pay the price for Government cuts. This is completely unacceptable and must be challenged. I am calling on all local Government representatives to fight for WIT and ensure it gets the funding its needs to thrive and transition to a University.”

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