Having worked in DCU since the NIHE* days, I’m very conscious of being too negative on the proposal to merge DIT and ITCarlow into a Technological University. According to the WIT and ITCarlow websites there’s an awful lot of stuff taught that isn’t science or engineering . Is the science and engineering done there good enough? I don’t know. It is genuinely hard to see how the Technological University thing can be done meaningfully. I suspect some convoluted explanation for the terminology will be forthcoming.
If the politicians are going to do this, shouldn’t they just go the full hog and make it a University. The costs will be huge though and would the University be any good? Or worse still, will it be absolutely crap? Will kids who get high points want to go there instead of Dublin to do Law or Medicine or, most importantly, Science and Engineering. I doubt it, except for purely financial reasons of course.
The battle with the staff will be fascinating. Will they just give up their summer holidays. Many IT staff are happy to have the high teaching loads for this very benefit. At the very least they’ll want compensation. Surely that can’t happen given the financial crisis? What about the ‘bar’ on the lecturer scale. I suspect that no staff would have a pay reduction so suddenly there would be a bunch of people in the University system who are being paid far higher salaries than equivalent people in the existing colleges. Doesn’t seem fair but this country rarely is. Furthermore, despite the scepticism of many, research is a key component of a University. The Croke Park agreement stipulates explicitly that staff are expected to engage in research. What sort of research will the large numbers of research-inactive staff do? All interesting problems that will, of course, be fudged if this happens.
One thing that interests me is that there is a virtual certainty that changing the status of WIT and ITCarlow will be a boon for the economy in the South East. I wonder is there a precedent for this?
Of course, in time, such a University could become excellent. There are loads of brilliant post docs out there who would love a permanent academic job but the costs……
I think that at a very deep level there is something inherently snobbish about the Irish. (I’m not sure if snobbish is the right word – maybe it’s an inferiority complex or our colonial past or something) No matter how good an institution is, I think there is an instinctive drive to want the status of being a traditional University. (I think that happened to an extent to DCU – I’m not sure what our distinctive features are these days. We do lots of labs for sure.) It’s a bit like the way kids want to go in to the old professions no matter how poor the job prospects or uninteresting the job.
* When DCU was NIHE, a colleague of mine once got a letter addressed to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. NIHE was a silly name to be sure.