Cork IT to seek university status


CORK IT moved formally to seek university status yesterday - in a move which could damage the campaign by Waterford IT for a university in the south-east.

 The decision by Cork IT comes as the Cabinet prepares later this month to consider a report on separate applications by Waterford IT and the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) for university status.

Last month, a report on Waterford's application - from British expert Dr Jim Port - warned that university status for the south-east would trigger a host of what he called "me too" applications from among the other 13 institutes of technology (IoTs).

Last night, a Department of Education spokeswoman said any application for university status would be considered in the light of the wider implications for the third-level sector. Education sources expressed dismay with the move but others stressed Cork - one of the largest and most successful institutes - was fully entitled to seek university status.

The Port report acknowledged the economic and social benefits of a university in Waterford . But it also warned that the rush to university status could damage the jobs and technology focus of the institutes.

It also cited a key finding of the landmark 2004 OECD report on the third-level sector; this said the Republic did not need additional universities.

Both Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Minister for Education Mary Hanafin are sceptical of Waterford's case for a university. But the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and local TD Martin Cullen has lobbied strongly on behalf of Waterford.

In a statement yesterday, the CIT governing body said it had unanimously authorised an application for designation as a university in accordance with Section 9 of the Universities Act 1997. It is the largest institute of technology outside of Dublin. It has 17,000 registrations and - after DIT - the most extensive delegated authority to award PhDs.

In wishing to be designated as a technological university, Cork is anxious to play down fears that the jobs focus of the institutes could be lost.

University challenge: main points

CIT does not wish to change its educational mission or ethos.

It considers itself to be a university-level institute.

CIT wishes to be designated as a technological university which is student-centred, driven by excellence in teaching, learning and research and is industry/career focused.