As the new Technological University (TU) in Dublin prepares for its unveiling in 2019, it appears that the TU’s South East bid is plodding along slowly. The importance of TU status for the region was underlined to this newspaper by Sanofi’s Waterford Site Head, Ruth Beadle. “It’s not only about attracting other people into the region, it’s also about retaining our own,” she said.
“My eldest son is gone to Trinity and I wonder if there was a university here, would he have stayed here? So how many more of him, for example, are there out there? Waterford is a fabulous place to live and a great place to raise your family but we have this gap where a lot of people move away, and not just for three of four years, but maybe 10 or 15 years until they have their own family and then want to come home, so I think this is as much about retaining our own talent as a community as well as attracting in others, so I feel university status would make a big difference.”
Dublin’s bid, a three-headed campaign fronted by DIT and the ITs at Tallaght and Blanchardstown, is the first such bid to make it past the post. The past difficulties between Carlow and Waterford ITs have certainly slowed down progress in this region: at one stage WIT had left the process and wanted to go it alone, but now we’re assured that the approach is back on track.There has been constant speculation about where the HQ of the TUSE will be located (the North Quay would be a plump site in our view) and who will be appointed as its new President.
But such matters ought to be running as secondary considerations to students who wish to graduate with university Degrees, Masters’ scrolls and Doctorates. Students are not too concerned as to where the TUSE HQ will be and that should not be lost sight of. As Tánaiste Simon Coveney said at Waterford Chamber’s Annual Dinner, a year delayed in any project truly represents a year lost.A UCC told us in early November that the TUSE will not be delivered until 2020, a year later after Dublin’s latest university opens it doors.
Employers in Asia and elsewhere regard university qualifications as the ‘gold standard’ for their employee intake. Students and their hard working families know this.
Professional higher education recruiters, who work internationally, will tell you openly that the IoT brand is weaker by far than the universally understood university status – even where it’s granted at UK and US institutions which may be far less well resourced than even WIT is at present. The truth is, really intensive government resourcing followed granting of university status in the cases of both DCU and UL. WIT President Willie Donnelly recently argued that more resources are needed in terms of capital, but is confident that such monies will come.
Come the New Year we hope that a revived sense of urgency and enthusiasm will be injected into the process that will bring about the foundation of the TUSE.Incidentally, while there is some concern about the URDF monies announced on Monday, now is a time for steady heads and resolve: we must believe that all the relevant monies, just like the TU bid, will be delivered.