Talking points: For heaven’s sake stop obsessing about mergers

The extraordinary public policy obsession in Ireland with the idea that merged multi-campus institutes of technology must inevitably be more university-like than stand-alone ones continues. A report by the former chair of the Higher Education Authority, Michael Kelly, has just been published and welcomed by the Minister for Education. It is being seen as a potential blueprint for renewed merger discussions between Waterford and Carlow Institutes, as a merger is a requisite for achieving ‘technological university’ status (in itself a very doubtful concept). Michael Kelly’s report, apart from introducing the unattractive acronym TUSE for the proposed ‘technological university’, provides little evidence that a merger would advance the key quality criteria for a university; indeed the report recognises that to date collaboration between the two did not really develop because of the different nature of the two institutes and their lack of physical proximity.

I can absolutely see the case for a University of Waterford. I can see no case for a merger between two largely incompatible institutions, one of which manifestly is not of university level standing. This policy makes no sense whatsoever.

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7 Comments on “Talking points: For heaven’s sake stop obsessing about mergers”

  1. Donncha Kavanagh Says:

    By coincidence, “Inside Higher Education” has just published an article titled ‘Anatomy of a Failed Merger’ – https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/08/05/college-merger-negotiations-are-long-and-complicated

    Donncha Kavanagh


  2. In my opinion the whole TU project is about putting a lid back on the IoT sector. Half of the IoTs are in talks to merge and become TUs, and most of the rest are making noises about moving. As currently proposed by Government TUs will have no extra funding (but additional coordination costs) and slightly less autonomy. The funny thing is that most IoTs are chasing this dis-improvement to their circumstances.

    As a WIT lecturer I found the whole Kelly exercise ugly; part of a course of business from the HEA/Dept of Ed that has seen WIT lose 3 Presidents, 2 Chairmen, its powers to borrow, lots of minor roadblocks to our plans (no new degree areas approved in 12 years) and very nasty outings to the pac where lots of mud but nothing of substance was thrown. A decade ago we breeched with national policy by applying for a section 9 review; and we are being schooled.

  3. Ahmad Salih Says:

    I understand that a merger between RGU and the University of Aberdeen was discussed in 2002. What is your perspective on that?


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