Waterford institute spending review

 

A TEAM of accountants has been appointed to review spending at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) amid controversy about a €170,000 refurbishment of the president’s office.

The move by the institute of technology’s board comes as it prepares to name a new president.

Prof Kieran Byrne – who has already served a 10-year term as president – was nominated for a second term after the vacancy was advertised publicly. But the WIT board is delaying a decision until it receives the report from Deloitte on budgetary procedures at the institute.

Today the college will issue its response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland about spending by Prof Byrne on his personal office.

Information released to date shows the college spent more than €20,000 on furniture, fittings and security last year for the president’s office which is located in a €25 million building completed just three years ago.

Two years ago, €157,000 was spent on an office and boardroom, including two kitchens at €6,250 each.

Department of Education sources said they are aware of the controversy.

Documentation released under the FoI Act detail high spending on the presidential office over the past three years including an audio visual system (€10,000), fitted furniture, fittings and curtains (€24,000) and loose furniture (€30,240).

WIT also spent €6,200 on five chairs used for graduation ceremonies.

The timing of the controversy could hardly come at a worse time for the college which has been pushing hard for university status.

Last week, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn signalled that it could be redesignated a “technological university” if it met strict criteria. Waterford Institute of Technology has the highest student numbers within the institute of technology sector outside of Dublin, with 6,000 full-time and 3,000 part-time students.