The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has expressed major concerns about the recent decision of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to fund mergers of Institutes of Technology in advance of any decision on the matter being taken by the Oireachtas.
In a national ballot conducted earlier this year, TUI members in Institutes of Technology voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in relation to serious concerns over mergers. As a result of this ballot, TUI members have been directed not to co-operate with any merger activities relating to the proposed technological universities.
Today, the union has once again drawn attention to the severe damage that savage cutbacks have already wreaked on the sector.
TUI represents 4,000 members in Institutes of Technology.
Speaking today, TUI President Gerry Quinn said:
“The TUI is concerned by the recent decision of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to fund mergers of Institutes of Technology in advance of the Oireachtas finalising its discussions on the Technological University Bill.
The union is not opposed to the creation of technological universities. However, the merger requirement must be removed and significant additional funding and other resources would be required to meet the criteria to establish technological universities.
Mergers of institutes are set out as a prerequisite for securing technological university status in the Technological Universities Bill. However, this Bill failed to pass through the previous Dáil and has yet to be discussed by the current Dáil. The merging of institutes as a prerequisite for attaining technological university status is highly contested by TUI and our members are not co-operating with merger activities wherever they are attempted. Furthermore, the Programme for Government provides for the factoring in of geographical considerations with regard to the question of mergers.
This situation contrasts starkly with the savage cuts which the sector has sustained. Funding for the Institute of Technology sector fell by €190m (35%) between 2008 and 2015. Over the same period, student numbers rose dramatically by 21,411 (32%) while 535 (9.5%) lecturing positions were lost. As a result, students are experiencing larger class sizes and less access to laboratories, equipment, materials, libraries and tutorials
Funding of mergers by the HEA at this stage is pre-emptive. Clearly, the democratic process of legislation formation should be completed before funding is allocated.
TUI is currently engaged in industrial action against the prerequisite for Institutes to have to merge first before they can apply for technological university status. The industrial action consists of TUI members in the Institute sector not cooperating with any merger activity.’