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South East case for University Vindicated: Cllr Jack Walsh

Issued : Wednesday 20 February, 2008

"There can be no other conclusion than that the case put forward for a University of the South East has been fully vindicated by the Dr. Jim Port Report" is the strongly held view of Cllr. Jack Walsh, The Labour Party. Any doubts that Waterford Institute of Technology has the academic credentials to be designated the University of the South East have been well and truly answered by Dr. Port, Cllr. Jack Walsh stated.

Dr. Port has not told us anything new but he is the third major international academic who has confirmed what we all believe - that WIT is worthy of designation as a University judged under any current international criteria. He has confirmed that University status would have a positive impact on the economic recovery of the South East Region. He has confirmed that designation as a University will not impact adversely on other 3rd Level Institutions with the exception of Carlow IT.

In section 3.7 of the report he refers to the findings of Pro. Robin Farquahar that in a Canadian context, WIT would be worthy of designation as a University. He further reinforces this view with the comment in section 3.15 that "that the profile of WIT would not look out of place in a University in the UK".

"The findings of Sections 3.16 of the Report acknowledge that WIT has the academic maturity, the positive regional dimension and the strategic capability required for a University" Cllr. Walsh declared "This is further confirmed in section 3.19 where Dr. Ports supports the view of WIT that it should be considered as a candidate for University status based on the merits of its application".

In section 3.29 Dr Port supports the region's view that having a university in the region would benefit the region economically, socially, and culturally.

Dr. Port addresses the issue of the impact on other 3rd Level Institutions in section 3.40 and states "Overall, we conclude that designation of WIT on its own is unlikely to be seriously damaging to other institutions, with the exception of Carlow IoT, which could be expected to experience some negative impacts". "This should be taken on board and addressed by the Government" Cllr. Walsh believes "but it should not be a barrier to the regions demand for a University"

Where there is negative comment it is directed at the Government for its lack of vision and transparency regarding the necessary criteria for the designation of an Institute of Technology under current legislation.

"The Report highlights, again and again, the government's shortcomings in not having a dynamic and creative approach to development of the Third Level sector" Cllr Walsh said. It is this lack of direction and leadership that is blocking us having a University. The Minister talks about the Binary System of Education but she does not seem to be aware that we do not have a Binary System in the South East. "We are the only region not to have the benefit of the Binary System and this has placed us at a serious disadvantage leading to the present economic decline" Cllr Jack Walsh stated.

Notwithstanding the positive findings of the Report two more years have effectively been wasted, two years in which the South East Region has fallen further behind. The people of the South East MUST SAY STOP, we will accept no more delaying, no more shoddy treatment from this Government. "The people, the children and future generations of the South East must have a University. We must make this issue the big political issue going into the next Local and European Elections" Cllr Jack Walsh concluded.

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Jack Walsh

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