There are no plans from the government to allow Dundalk IT to be granted university status outside of the technological university framework, according to Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris.
In response to a question from Independent TD for Louth, Peter Fitzpatrick, the Minister said that the government are not currently planning any more universities through the Universities Act 1997, and that DkIT would need to work within the Technological University framework.
“There are no plans by Government to seek to establish any additional universities under section 9 of the Universities Act 1997,” said Minister Harris.
“Rather, it is stated Government policy to establish and develop technological universities, which agenda has been successfully pursued since 2019 with three TUs established, and a further two expected to be established next year.”
Currently, there are only two institutes of technology outside the TU framework, DkIT and Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
All other institutes of technology have either achieved TU status or are in the process of achieving TU status.
The Democrat previously reported that members of DkIT’s staff had raised concerns about the college’s progress in achieving TU status, saying that progress has been too slow.
In a statement, DkIT’s branch of the Teaching Union of Ireland (TUI) said that this is due to multiple unilateral decisions made by current DkIT president, Michael Mulvey.
“DkIT currently is not part of any of the five recently established Technological Universities. The northeast is now the only region in the state without a campus with University designation,” said the TUI in a statement.
“This is the outcome of a series of unilateral strategic decisions the current President made during the crucial period between Nov 2017 and May 2020.”
The TUI criticized Mr Mulvey for taking DkIT out of the TU developmental project in 2017, which he only rejoined after action by the TUI.
There was also criticism of the Governing board of DkIT by the TUI.
“Ultimately, the President has the legislative authority to decide the institute's key strategic decisions. However, the President did not and does not operate in a vacuum.
“During that key strategic period the members of the institute's Governing Body, some by default, some by active design, facilitated the President's resistance to engaging with the TU project.
“These GB members and a few others of the institute's key officers supported the President in his strategic misleading of the institute.
“As the TUI had long warned, DkIT Is now well behind the national curve, with no easy path to University designation. However, staff, both TUI members and non-academic colleagues,, are determined not to let this fine institute be left behind.”
A spokesperson for DkIT previously told the Democrat that the college is making progress towards TU status, with all but one key metric being hit by the college.
“Our outstanding metric is Research Students which is currently at 2.79% and we have projected to hit 4.02% by next year which will complete all TU metrics required,” said the spokesperson.
“DkIT therefore is ready to seek a partner under section 38 and the Institute is making steady, coherent, and purposeful progress on our journey to become a Technological University.”
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