Plans for new technological universities to cost more than €45m

Legislation to pave the way for new third-level institutions to be published this week

 Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Plans to merge institutes of technology into new technological universities are likely to cost well more than €45 million, new figures show.

The move to create a new category of university follows a national strategy for higher education published four years ago.

The blueprint envisages creating larger centres of excellence through the merger of smaller institutions, though some critics claim the strategy is the result of political lobbying to secure universities for different regions.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan will this week publish legislation that will pave the way for the creation of the new category of university subject to a range of legal and performance conditions.

In all, 10 of the State’s 14 institutes of technology form part of four separate groups in Dublin, Munster, Connacht-Ulster and the southeast which are bidding for the new designation. All these alliances will have their bids examined by an international panel as part of a four-step process.

To date, more than €3 million has been spent on developing technological universities, with most of the money going on pay and professional fees.

Merger process

Higher Education Authority

Officials involved in the bids, however, say these up-front costs will be recouped in the longer term through efficiencies and new income sources.

In the case of the Dublin consortium, the Dublin Institute of Technology is planning to merge with IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght.

While it has spent €1.9 million on the process to date, the final cost is due to cost almost €24 million over a three-year period.

This Dublin bid is widely considered to be the front-runner and, subject to passing an assessment, hopes to secure university status by 2017.

A Munster bid, which involves the merger of Cork IT and IT Tralee, has spent almost €800,000 on its bid to date. The final projected cost is likely to reach more than €16 million.

The southeast consortium, which envisages the merger of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow, has incurred costs of almost €400,000. Its plans are at an earlier stage and estimated costs are not yet available.

The Connacht-Ulster bid, which comprises Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, is also at an early stage and does not have estimated merger costs.