An extract from Jim Port’s report which has finally been released by the Department of Education.
“We therefore conclude that, in terms of its profile and plans against the criteria that might be expected to be used in a Section 9 examination, WIT has made a serious case that would deserve to be investigated on the merits of the case. However, broader national policy factors have to be considered and we review these in the next chapter.”
This paragraph neatly sums up the dilemna facing Jim Port and indeed WIT. The government have been unclear about whether an application for University status from an IoT under section 9 of the Universities Act 1997 could be entertained on policy grounds. The policy is unclear which means it’s very much down to the minister du jour to set the agenda for reconciliation of a strong application with an unclear policy.
Would a redesignation have highly negative repercussions on the IoT sector, notably reducing the technical and sub-degree education provided within this sector?
“There are several assumptions being made by those who express these concerns – for example, we do not believe that all 14 IoTs would seek or gain university status, and nor do we believe that undesirable mission drift is an inevitable consequence of university status – this has not been the case in the UK, for example”
However, it’s saddening to see the Irish Times publish yet another attack on WIT’s application under the headline “University status report on Waterford sceptical”. Madam, let’s be clear the report is most sceptical about the rationale behind section 9 when he has himself been informed that “Ireland does not need additional universities” Unfortunately, the Ireland under consideration is the Ireland of ministers, senators and little else beyond the pale & the people’s republic.