Waterford's case for a university


Madam, - Taoiseach Bertie Ahern came to Waterford on February 8th to open a new heritage centre at Mount Sion CBS in honour of the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, Edmond Ignatius Rice. Br Rice fought against the vested interests of 18th- and 19th-century Ireland to bring education to the poor.

He played a pivotal role in creating modern Ireland.

Waterford Institute of Technology is seeking redesignation as a university in the context of regional equity and economic development. Unfortunately, vested interest is again raising its head. The report of Dr Jim Port on WIT's case, prepared by JM Consulting, was published by the Minister for Education on Wednesday. Your education editor Sean Flynn on two occasions (February 9th and 20th), and obviously having had sight of Dr Port's report, has written articles concentrating on the possible negative impacts of upgrading WIT.

While any movement in the education sector might obviously have ramifications for other providers, both in the university and the institute of technology sectors, these can be managed. Dr Port is clear: "The application is a serious one and while it raises a number of of issues for the Government, there is nothing inherent in the application which would argue that it should not be considered under the existing process, which has already been used for this purpose."

Not to allow WIT to proceed with its application is to deny its 40 years of academic and educational progress. One need only think of the impact that Dublin City University and the University of Limerick have had in their respective communities. Who would now deny these institutions university status?

When I left Mount Sion nearly 45 years ago, having finished secondary education, Latin was still on the curriculum. It might be appropriate to remind the Minister for Education and the Higher Education Authority of the maxim, "Fiat justitia et ruant coeli". Let justice be done though the heavens fall. - Yours, etc,

DES GRIFFIN, Lower Newtown, Waterford.