Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 07 November, 2002

Written Answers. - Institutes of Technology.

  135. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science his proposals for the upgrading and development of Waterford Institute of Technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20978/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): In July 1996, the Government approved in principle the recommendations in the report of the steering committee on the future development of higher education as a benchmark for future planning in the sector. The steering committee concluded that an upgrading and expansion of Waterford Regional College, now Waterford Institute of Technology, represented the most appropriate response to the higher education needs of the south-east region. The committee's report also recommended an increase in student places, an increase in degree level awards and a change of title. It was recommended that the major focus of expansion be at degree level. It stated that such provision would place the college at the top end of the spectrum in terms of provision of degree places and would enable the region to reach the national average participation in degree programmes.

  The Government accepted these recommendations. The provision of both the total number of places and the number of degree level courses in Waterford Institute of Technology has been expanded annually and incrementally in line with available resources. In this regard, figures supplied to my Department by Waterford Institute of Technology indicate that in the region of 40% of students enrolled on full-time certificate, diploma, degree and postgraduate courses are enrolled on courses at degree and postgraduate levels. These measures, combined with the change of title of the college provide the necessary status and capacity for the institute to meet the identified higher education needs of the region over the coming years. Consistent with this approach, Waterford is among the first Institutes of Technology to be given the authority to make [1386] its own educational awards under the terms of the Qualification (Education and Training) Act, 1999.

  My Department continues to work with Waterford Institute of Technology in developing and upgrading. Earlier this year approval was given to the institute to commence delivery of three new courses at primary degree level and one new course at Masters level in the current academic year. My Department is also working in consultation with the institute on the implementation of the approved campus development plan. An information technology building is currently under construction. A hotel and catering facility and the expansion of canteen facilities are in the final stages of architectural planning.