MAYO TD Lisa Chambers has quizzed Education Minister Richard Bruton on the working group which he has established to look at future of the Mayo GMIT campus in Castlebar which has debts of over €2 million and is widely considered to be under threat following the cutting of five courses.
She asked who will sit on the working group, if they will meet in public or private, if the minutes of meetings will be made available to the public, the terms of reference for the working group, the person the working group will report to, the timeline for the working group to report, the overall objective of the working group and if this working group will liaise with the already established community working group that has been established.
In response, he stated: “The working group will be required to present a full report to the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) Finance Committee in the third quarter of 2017.
“It will be engaging with the Local Enterprise Office, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, as well as the Implementation Committee of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs West which is charged with overseeing the delivery of 25,000 jobs across Mayo, Roscommon and Galway over the lifetime of the Plan.
“GMIT is also represented on the Atlantic Economic Corridor Steering Group, which is a key part of the Action Plan on Rural Development.
“My department and the HEA recognise the particular challenges attached to multi-campus provision in both GMIT and other institutes of technology.
“A major review of the funding allocation model of higher education has commenced and the review will look at how the future model can take account of the additional costs associated with these arrangements. My department and the HEA are committed to such multi-campus provision, including Castlebar.
“The HEA and GMIT Governing Body have re-confirmed to my department their commitment to implementing a viable development plan for the Castlebar campus as part of this process and GMIT has appointed an Interim Head of the campus in Castlebar to lead this process.
“Funding overall for the higher education sector is a key concern for me, particularly in light of the additional pressure that will fall on the system over the next decade or so – an issue which is clearly set out in the Report of the Expert Group on the Future Funding for Higher Education, which is currently with the Joint Oireachtas Committee for consideration.
“However, in seeking to address the issue in the short term, I have for the first time in nine years secured additional funding for the sector with €36.5m additional being made available this year and €160 million additional overall over the next three years.
“In addition, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are currently undertaking a public consultation process on a proposed Exchequer-employer investment mechanism for higher education and further…