Proposals to accomplish this were published by Ruairí Quinn and will bring about a major consolidation of the institute of technology sector and foster greater coherence between the education system and national priorities, particularly those in the economic and enterprise areas.
Legislation that will enable this profound level of change was already being prepared and the changes would bring Ireland into line with “best practice internationally”, Mr Quinn said.
The Minister has accepted most of the reform proposals prepared by the Higher Education Authority in its report “on system reconfiguration, inter-institutional collaboration and system governance in Irish higher education”, released yesterday by the department. It provides detailed plans and methods of oversight to gauge progress as the changes begin to take effect.
Three groups of institutes have formed to deliver the three technological universities while there are four regional clusters.
The Connacht Ulster Alliance, a grouping of the Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny institutes, issued a statement yesterday clarifying that they had not yet submitted a formal application to the Higher Education Authority. It was not correct that an application had been rejected, it said.
There was a wide level of support for the proposals, particularly from the institutes of technology. The document represented a “milestone in the move to transform our higher-education system,” said Denis Cummins, chairman of representative body Institutes of Technology Ireland. He welcomed the fact the plan had rejected a “one size fits all” approach to institute collaboration.
The business representative body Ibec also welcomed the plan, but warned that its success would be judged by its contribution to growth and employment. Funding also remained a “critical challenge”, said Ibec’s head of education policy, Tony Donoghue.
The restructuring was not an end in itself but part of a wider national strategy for higher education, said Higher Education Authority chairman John Hennessy, when welcoming the Minister’s decision.
Source: Irish Times