Chamber News

Chamber calls for Government intervention on TUSE debacle

WIT main campusWaterford Chamber is calling on Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to honour his commitment to intervene in the ongoing debacle over the Technological University of the South East.

During a meeting with Waterford Chamber Executive and business leaders last year, Minister Donohue said he would step in if agreements couldn’t be reached in a timely manner.

As of yet there has been no intervention and this week, following the announcement of the Munster Technological University, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley has written to the Minister again asking for his intervention.

In the letter, Mr Hurley stated, “It is widely accepted by all stakeholders from across the business community and beyond that the creation of a strong university of international standing is essential to guarantee the future prosperity of Waterford City and the South East.”


According to Mr Hurley, “The role of new “technological” universities in regional development is explicit in the national development plan, Project Ireland 2040: “By creating institutions of scale and strength,” the plan indicates, “technological universities will bring greater social and economic benefits to their regions”. The centrality of a new university to Waterford is outlined in detail in the Regional Economic and Spatial Strategy for the Southern Region and in the Metropolitan Area Spatial Plan for Waterford city. In these challenging times for enterprise and for our community, the creation of a new university in the city will help attract talent and business and, through innovation and research, generate myriad transformative opportunities for new types of enterprise and business activity. The €200 million in research and innovation funding that has come to Waterford Institute of Technology in the last 20 years it has been estimated has generated a €1 billion impact on Waterford and the South East. Creating a Technological University will have impacts that are multiples of this.


“The cities rightly are at the core of the national development plan and particularly the regional cities as counter-forces to the unsustainable growth of Dublin. At the moment, Waterford is the only city without a university. The city’s ambition, articulated in the MASP, reflects national ambition as set out in Project Ireland 2040. The lack of a university will continue to frustrate not just Waterford’s business community but will seriously compromise the ability of the city to reach the growth targets established by the national plan.

“Waterford stakeholders welcomed the pathway towards the creation of a university in the city that was outlined in the national strategy for higher education published in 2011 and the Technological Universities legislation that followed. The partnership between WIT and IT Carlow was recognised as presenting challenges but, with the combination of the obvious strengths of both organisations, stakeholders determined that the partnership would lend considerable weight to the future organisation and give it a very strong regional reach.


“It is incredibly disappointing therefore and most frustrating for Waterford stakeholders to observe the lack of substantive progress towards the creation of a new university for the city and region. We are aware of the need for academic staff in the partner institutions to be fully involved in the process and note that almost twelve months ago WIT academic staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of an MOU that gave comfort to staff on their future within the new organization. However, IT Carlow staff did not support this MOU and since then as far as we are concerned there has been no progress. This is extremely alarming.

“In the meantime, Munster Technological University has been formed, a university proposed, we note, for the province and for the Southern Region. We contend that a second university in Cork, however useful to that city, is not going to be in a position to support adequately the needs of stakeholders in the South East. However, in the vacuum created by the lack of progress in the South East, the positioning of a university in Cork as answering those needs gains momentum, however lacking in credibility such a proposition has.


“In the summer of 2019, the government made a firm commitment to Waterford stakeholders to support the South East university project and if necessary to intervene to ensure the rapid resolution of any difficulties that might hold back this most critical development. There has been no such intervention to date, regrettably. A year has now passed.

“We are asking for immediate action by government in support of the creation of a Technological University in the city and region, recognising the imperative to create such an entity in order to realise national and regional development plans. We suggest the need for the government to take the initiative and create a structure independent of the existing organisations that will form the focal point for the project. We suggest the appointment without delay of an independent, senior educational leader to assist the current Presidents and their Executives in advancing the creation of the university with a firm focus on delivering what the region needs which is a university of quality, scale and impact. We emphasise: interventions of this kind were promised to stakeholders in the city a year ago and it is imperative that government makes good on these promises.”


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