Fianna Fáil TD for Longford – Westmeath Robert Troy has accused the Government of reneging on its commitment on allowing Athlone Institute of Technology to gain university status without having to merge with another Institute of Technology.
The Programme for Government committed to ensuring that the requirement of a mandatory merger would be dropped if a case can be proven, that for geographical reasons such as in AIT, a merger isn’t feasible. The Government has now reneged on this commitment and is insisting AIT can only gain university status if it merges with another Institute of Technology.
Deputy Troy said, “The Programme for Government committed to ensuring that the requirement of a mandatory merger of existing institutions can be done away with in cases where geographic concerns meant that such a merger is not feasible. This would have allowed AIT to gain university status without having to merge with another Institute of Technology, something which the staff at AIT have long campaigned for.
“Now it transpires that the Government wants to ensure that the only way to achieve university status is for mergers to occur. This means that Athlone Institute of Technology will be unable to achieve university status unless it merges with another Institute of Technology. This isn’t a workable solution for Athlone.
“It has been suggested that AIT should merge with Dundalk Institute of Technology, but the practicalities make it difficult to do so. This has led to the bizarre situation whereby AIT satisfies all the criteria to allow it be designated as a stand alone university, but Government policy is preventing this from occurring.
“This is something the Government should reassess. AIT should be allowed the opportunity apply for university status as a stand alone institution. The prospect of a forced merger with Dundalk Institute of Technology is not something that is in the best interests of Athlone,” concluded Deputy Troy.