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Institute of Technology lecturers 'far from convinced' about university move

More than half of lecturers believe their institute should not merge.

Image: Lecture hall via Shutterstock

INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY lecturers remain “far from convinced” by the move towards Technological University status.

That’s according to a new survey from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents 4,000 lecturers and researchers.

It found that:

  • 51 per cent of lecturers polled believe that their institute should not merge and apply for technological university status
  • 49 per cent of lecturers would rather that their Institute remained standalone
  • 40 per cent disagreed that their institute should develop merger proposals with another Institute

Concerns

TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann said that while the union is not opposed to the concept of Technological Universities, “we are unimpressed by the rationale and the model currently on offer, a position backed up by the findings of this survey”.

He said that the union has a number of “significant concerns” over the Technological University process.

Not all institutes have engaged in adequate consultation with lecturers or provided the required information relating to plans to merge with other institutes. Where consultation and information is not fully provided for, TUI will utilise all options open to it to protect the interests of our members.

TUI is “unequivocal” in insisting that existing agreements on terms and conditions of employment be continued in any case where a transfer to a new institution takes place.

It also does not accept that staff could be arbitrarily transferred to other public sector bodies on ‘establishment day’ of a merged entity or Technological University. “Any such attempt will be opposed, by means of industrial action if necessary,” said MacGabhann.

We are also concerned by a possible tension between the Head of Bill for Technological Universities and the Haddington Road Agreement, which TUI members voted to accept. The protections of this agreement must prevail for its full duration.

The union fears that the move towards Technological University could lead to a dramatic reduction in regional provision of programmes and a corresponding inequity in respect of access to higher education.

The TUI said it expects that there will be full consultation and assurance on the maintenance of existing conditions of service.

Survey results

Questioned on whether their institute should remain a stand-alone IoT, 48.7 per cent agreed, compared to 32.8 per cent who disagreed; 20.3 per cent were neutral.

On whether their institute should develop merger proposals with another IoT(s), 39.8 per cent disagreed, compared to 39.45 per cent who agreed; 19.8 per cent were neutral.

On whether their institute should merge and apply for technological university status, 50.7 per cent disagreed, compared to 29.2 per cent who agreed; 19.8 per cent were neutral.

Read: Universities are under financial pressure – here’s how they can survive>

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