Cork and Tralee colleges say Munster merger ‘will not require efficiencies’

Institutes move to reassure staff over university bid amid union balloting

The institutes of technology in Cork and Tralee, which are planning to merge under a joint bid to become a technological university, said the €6.7 million bill for the plan will not be funded through cuts in services.

"We will not require additional efficiencies in order to meet these costs," a Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) statement read.

“Additional funding, if it were to become available, would be utilised to fund developments which would allow the new university to begin to deliver an economic dividend, conservatively calculated to be many multiples of the costs of merger, to the region and beyond.”

The institutions were responding to queries from The Irish Times over the cost of the merger after a meeting on Wednesday to agree to advance their application for technological university designation to the next stage.


In a joint statement, the governing bodies of CIT and ITT said they were “very confident” they would meet the criteria for such designation, and also moved to reassure staff that they would be fully consulted on developments.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents lecturing staff at the two institutes, has expressed fears the merger will undermine educational standards and is balloting members on industrial action.

“‘Efficiencies’, ‘rationalisation’, or ‘consolidation’ – as it’s now being referred to – achieved through merging CIT and ITT do zilch for education. There is no educational rationale for merger except a cost-cutting agenda,” the TUI Cork colleges’ branch stated.

However, it welcomed the statement from the governing bodies, which the union interpreted as evidence that the merger process “has been slowed down”.

“A stop has been put to the gallop of the MTU [Munster Technological University] consortium,” the union said.

But the TUI said it was continuing to progress its dispute both through the Labour Relations Commission and balloting, the results of which would be known next week.

At separate Oireachtas committee hearings last month, Tom Boland, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, said any mergers would have to be done in an "innovative, shoestring sort of way" in the absence of additional state funding. It was expected most of the costs would be covered by "efficiencies" and raising funds through other sources, he said.

In its statement, the governing bodies of CIT and ITT said: “This is an exciting time for our two institutions and the achievement of technological university designation promises a broad range of benefits and opportunities for our students, staff and other stakeholders.

“Our students will be able to avail of enhanced study options and our staff will be provided with career and professional development opportunities.

“The economic impact study carried out as part of the MTU submission predicts that all of these figures will increase and conservatively estimates that the MTU will result in an additional annual contribution of €58 million to the regional economy bringing the total to over a quarter of a billion euro.”

The partnering institutes added: “Considering the nature and scale of the proposal to establish the MTU it is inevitable that there will be some concerns on the part of our employees. To help address these concerns we pledge that thorough and inclusive consultation will continue to take place throughout the merger process.

“Furthermore we would like to reassure our staff that the MTU will continue to honour nationally negotiated contracts and national agreements with respect to the terms and conditions of staff.”

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column