Jan O'Sullivan Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
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The Education Minister gave the head of Waterford IT a "tough" talking-to this morning

Waterford IT sent an email to college bosses in Carlow to tell them they were pulling out of a planned university bid.

Updated at 3.05pm

EDUCATION MINISTER JAN O’Sullivan held a “tough and frank” discussion with the head of Waterford IT today, in the wake of the college pulling out of a planned merger with IT Carlow.

The two third level colleges had long-established plans to apply to set up a technological university in the south-east. But WIT management informed their colleagues in Carlow via email on Tuesday that they wanted to pull out of the deal.

A source familiar with the situation said the Education Minister got no prior indication of the move from Waterford.

And the President of IT Carlow Patricia Mulcahy has said she was “surprised and disappointed” to receive the correspondence from her WIT counterpart.

The email read, according to a ITC:

“The Governing Body of Waterford Institute of Technology met today (October 21st) to discuss concerns about the process of delivering a Technological University in the South East.

“The members agreed to seek an urgent meeting with the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education and Skills to discuss and address their concerns and they further agreed to suspend all activities related to merger.

“WIT remains committed to a Technological University in the South East which will have a significant economic and social impact.

Mulcahy said the pull-out appears to be “at variance” with an official agreement made by the governing bodies of the two colleges last week.

‘Out of the blue’

A senior source at Carlow IT said management had been shocked to receive the blunt email, which only ran to three paragraphs, and came “out of the blue”.

According to a Department spokesperson, O’Sullivan had “a tough and frank discussion with the President and Vice-Chairperson of WIT this morning”.

Minister O’Sullivan reaffirmed her commitment to the Government policy of establishing a technological university in the south-east, which will be multi-campus

“There will be a further meeting with WIT on here will be a further meeting with WIT on 3 November next.

“Talks are also on-going with Carlow IT.”

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