IBEC South East demands university designation for WIT

IBEC Regional President for the South East, Paul Nolan, has hit out at reports suggesting the region is to be denied a university for fear of weakening the Institute of Technology sector.

Waterford Institute of Technology applied for university designation two years ago this month and an independent review carried out for the Government by educationalist Dr Jim Port has been with the Department of Education & Science since last summer.

Weekend newspaper reports quoting the Minister for Education & Science indicated that Dr Port’s report accepted the South East region’s case for a university but warns of potentially negative impacts on the Institute of Technology sector if it loses Waterford under re-designation as University of the South East.

Responding, Paul Nolan has said it is absurd that the 460,000+ people living in the southeast should be denied a university for fear of damaging colleges in other regions.

“It is evident from the selective leaking of Dr Port’s report that we saw in Saturday’s Irish Times that the strong argument for the South East region having a regional university and the earned academic reputation of the Waterford Institute have been acknowledged and accepted by Dr Port.

“Arguments that the Institute sector may be damaged simply don’t hold up. There are internationally established approaches to resolving that issue and all of the other issues around it.

Magnet

“With our construction, agricultural and manufacturing employment base being eroded and unemployment above the national average, the southeast simply has to have a university as a magnet for inward investment and – perhaps more importantly – a hothouse for greater entrepreneurship as we look to build up indigenous business that can only be sustained where research, development and innovation are nurtured and where there is extensive fourth level provision.

“The South East region needs a change agent; the university is that change agent – we will accept nothing less. There can be no further delay in this matter and continued prevarication is not an option. The business community will not rest until a positive decision is taken.

“Report after report and economic indicator after economic indicator have shown that we are underperforming as a region. If this is not to continue then the university will be the single most powerful weapon in our armoury. Without it, the South East will become a greater burden on the Exchequer at a time of straitened economic circumstances. Inaction on this will be far more costly than a courageous move to allow the South East compete internationally.”

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