Colm McCarthy: proposals

Plans for a merger of four Dublin institutes of technology into a new 'Technical University of Dublin' are expected to be announced in the coming days, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

Under the proposals, Dublin Institute of Technology, Tallaght Institute of Technology, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown will form an alliance, expected to lead to a full merger in time.

The move, which would be in line with proposals contained in Colm McCarthy's An Bord Snip Nua report, could bring significant cost savings but could also entail significant redundancy costs and redeployment of staff.

There are also serious concerns that, although the plan could lead to new "strategic opportunities", it will be treated primarily as a cost-saving exercise by the government.

Also unclear are the implications for DIT's massive Grangegorman campus redevelopment plan, given that DIT is expected to move to the new site in the coming years.

The announcement of the new Technical University of Dublin Alliance is due to be made in the coming days, most likely in advance of the launch this week of the report of an expert government group set up to examine the education sector.

Chaired by economist Dr Colin Hunt, the report is expected to find that third-level colleges require additional funding of up to €500m a year to keep pace with record student demand and to meet government targets.

Tomorrow, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan is also due to make a major announcement about the future of Letterkenny Institute of Technology. This is believed to concern a merger/joint provision agreement between Letterkenny and the University of Ulster at Magee.