Lecturers at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) will take part in a one-day work stoppage on Wednesday, February 3rd as part of a national protest over chronic underfunding and precarious contracts in the third level sector.
Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) members have voted 92% in favour of the strike action and the union says it is the beginning of a campaign of action to address a number of crisis issues in a sector that had been ‘brutalised by an era of anti-educational cutbacks’.
WIT has lost an estimated 98 lecturing posts since 2008 and suffered a 32% cut in funding, according to local TUI spokesperson Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh. Yet, she noted, the Institute has also experience a huge growth in student numbers during the period.
Dr Moore Walsh said lack of investment in the Institute was a far more serious problem than people in Waterford realised and described a situation in the College Street campus where mould was growing on walls for lack of remedial works.
Meanwhile in an internal memo to staff this week, WIT President Willie Donnelly said the Institute was in the process of addressing its financial and infrastructure deficit.
“The solution is clear,” the memo read. “We need to attract more students and develop initiatives to overcome the non-retention rate. At present our pay costs represent 87% of the total Institute budget. This is not a healthy percentage and needs to be decreased through increasing our income streams.” It’s understood WIT management recently commenced a number of working groups as a means of evaluating the challenges and defining solutions to be implemented in the new academic year.