They may be facing unprecedented budgetary pressures at a time when the government is preparing to increases student fees, prompting tens of thousands of students to take to the street in protest last week. But this has not stopped the country's Institutes of Technology (IOTs) and the Grangegorman-bound Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) advertising a valuable PR and communications contract worth €120,000 for a new website or "educational portal".
According to the tender document posted on the government's etenders website, it is prepared to allocate a provisional budget of €120,000 next year to promote www.bluebrick.ie.
Most if not all of the institutes in question would have their own internal press and communications staff.
"In line with current government policy and market need, the IOTs and DIT are significantly expanding the number of people engaged in flexible learning in Ireland, through increased access to and participation in higher education," the document states.
"In order to achieve this, the IOTs and DIT are undertaking a significant flexible learning initiative. A key element of this initiative has been the development and launch of a branded portal – www.bluebrick.ie.
"This portal allows prospective learners to search for accredited courses using various search and filter functions, compare, using various criteria, save searches, prepare and save their individual educational profiles and make applications online."
With this in mind, it says that Institutes of Technology of Ireland (IOTI), the overall body for the institutes here, is seeking to appoint a "communications agency to continue with the promotion of bluebrick.ie during 2011".
"IOTI and DIT have a budget of c€120,000 (provisional) to spend on communication and promotion of www.bluebrick.ie for 2011," it states. "IOTI will adopt a two stage (restricted tender) process to the appointment of a provider/ agency."
The closing date for receipt of applications for stage one of the tendering process was last Friday, the document also says, with a deadline later this month for receipt of stage two documentation.
Institutes of technology are wasting 120k on a site that could be created by their students in a competition with a prize of 5K. Wasters!