THERE are no current plans to create a new campus-scale facility in Kilkenny city as part of the Waterford IT/IT Carlow bid to establish the Technological University of the South East (TUSE).
Speaking to The Munster Express, Richard Hayes, WIT’s Vice-President for Strategy and Institutional Transformation, said that the acquisition of a greenfield/brownfield site in Kilkenny as part of the WIT/IT Carlow application isn’t being considered.
“From WIT’s perspective, that’s not being examined at present,” he said. “But it’s worth pointing out that we already have a presence in Kilkenny. We have an Arc Labs incubation hub in Kilkenny already (at St Kieran’s College) and we also teach several courses at the Teagasc College in Kildalton (Piltown) so Kilkenny is catered for, in a sense already.”
WIT grads
Mr Hayes stated: “When you’re talking about Kilkenny, you’d be talking about a greenfield site, but where would the students (for a new campus) come from? The students we’re talking about are already going to one or the other existing ITs, so are you going to start moving students from one place to the other and then making those courses less viable in one location or will they be moved somewhere else. We already have a footprint in Kilkenny, Kilkenny is part of our thinking, as is Clonmel, as is Carrick-on-Suir, as is Dungarvan – they’re all part of the equation.”
Ferrybank-based Minister of State John Paul Phelan believes Kilkenny will have more than a ‘bit part’ to play in the TU, stressing that “there is ample land in State hands across Kilkenny to meet the needs of an expanding Technological University”.
The concept of a fragmented TU, with a range of smaller campus facilities across the South East (i.e. Tramore, Dungarvan, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir) would, in Richard Hayes’s view, prove “impossible to manage”.
During her speech at the ‘Project Ireland 2040’ roadshow at the WIT Arena on March 9th, Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor spoke of Waterford, Carlow and Wexford in relation to the TUSE bid, while Kilkenny was not specifically referenced.
Committing to the delivery of “significant new buildings” at WIT and ITC through Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreements, Minister O’Connor added: “For the South East region, my Department is also committed to supporting IT Carlow in the acquisition of a site for its Wexford campus.”
Bur this exclusion does not appear to have overly perturbed Minister Phelan. “The Technological University of the South East was always going to be a multi-campus facility which will meet the current and future educational and employment needs of the south east and the wider jobs market across Ireland. Parts of this new University will be located in Kilkenny.”
He added: “Leaving aside the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) which has a thriving hub at Burrells Hall at St Kieran’s College and the growing agricultural hub at Kildalton, there is ample land in State hands across Kilkenny to meet the needs of an expanding Technological University.