Waterford IT pulls out of merger with IT Carlow

Waterford Institute of Technology has pulled out of negotiations to merge with IT Carlow. The move comes one week after the two colleges signed a memorandum of agreement affirming their commitment to the process.

Waterford IT said it was suspending all activities relating to the merger as it believed it would hinder its tender for technological university status and delay the process for several years. Independent councillor and member of Waterford IT’s governing body, Mary Roche, confirmed there had been “a lot of unhappiness” in Waterford about the anticipated union.

Under upcoming legislation, the only way for Waterford IT to gain university status would be by way of a merger with Carlow. President of IT Carlow, Dr. Patricia Mulcahy, revealed that she only became aware of the news after receiving an email from Waterford IT and said “their decision to suspend the negotiations has surprised us and really disappointed us.”

Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, called the senior management of Waterford IT to Dublin for an emergency meeting after the story broke.

TCD Professor Defends Trial Admission Scheme

A professor at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dr Patrick Geoghegan, has defended a trial admission scheme the university launched in August, after it received a further bout of criticism.

25 students who failed to meet the points requirements for their chosen courses were assessed by way of 4 alternative criteria. The students were examined by way of relative performance to their classmates, an essay submission, special circumstances (illness, death of family member, significant extracurricular involvement etc.) or achievements not reflected in their applications.

The news of the trial provoked a strong response from defenders of the current points system. In an opinion column for the Irish Times, former Central Applications Office (CAO) general manager, John McAvoy criticised the procedure, calling it an “ill-judged action” and an example of “arrogance” by the university.

Responding to those claims in the same newspaper, Geoghegan called some elements of McAvoy’s use of language “intemperate” and “regrettable,” yet understandable given his attachment to the CAO. He argued that a holistic admissions system was the best method for the future, and that the trial was designed to stimulate debate over a controversial part of the Irish education system by way of action, rather than merely condemning it.

College funding per student falls 24pc to €9,000

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has said that third-level institutions will receive €9,000 in funding for each student next year, a 24% decrease from funding of €11,800 per student in 2007/08.

The continued decrease ignited another call from the HEA about the need for a funding system that will maintain higher education in Ireland at its current level. HEA chief executive, Tom Boland, warned that Ireland was at risk of moving to a low-quality system that would be incapable of meeting the collegiate supply and demand. Boland said that in order to prevent a further decline in third level education, urgent funding was required, combined with measures to improve efficiency such as increased autonomy for the colleges to manage their financial affairs.

Emphasising the value of third-level education, Boland referred to a 2012 report from the Central Statistics Office that stated disposable income for the average third level graduate was €29,600, compared to €18,000 for those who had just finished secondary level. According to a study at the School of Business in Trinity College Dublin, Irish universities and institutes of technology contribute €10.6 billion to the economy each year, which led to the authors of the study calling them “value for money.”