THE PRESIDENT of LYIT Paul Hannigan has briefed county councillors on the future of higher education in the county today and insisted the institutions future development must have a cross-Border element.
Mr Hannigan addressed councillors on the possibility of merging with other institutions in the Republic as part of a Higher Education Authority review.
He ruled out the possibility of LYIT becoming a specialist institution, which is one of the HEA’s defined proposals.
He said that in 2008, LYIT set out to create closer links with the University of Ulster. This was, he said, a coherent way forward and LYIT was designated as a UU institution.
Under the current programme for Government however, there is no specific commitment to cross-Border higher education.
He said there were now issues with the University of Ulster (UU) because student fees are smaller in Co Donegal and there is a fear from the UU that students would choose to come to Letterkenny over northern campuses.
The HEA has now placed LYIT into the Border/Midlands/West education cluster.
LYIT is in discussions for that cluster to become a technological university, said Mr Hannigan.
Cllr Marie Therese Gallagher expressed concern that the cross-Border strategy on education had been done away with by the Government.
Cllr Dessie Larkin agreed with that view – saying he wanted Donegal County Council to lobby for the continued development of a cross-Border education strategy.
“The cross-Border strategy has disappeared off the political agenda in the past year and that has made it extremely difficult,” Mr Hannigan said in response.
“It is our view that the technological university discussions must be cross-Border but it is now no longer on the political landscape.
“There has to be a cross-Border element to our future.”
Earlier the LYIT President said that institution had a good record of attracting students locally.
He said 46% of graduate students last year went on to further study, with 34% finding employment.
The rest were taking time out or continuing to look for jobs.
Donegal, he said, also had a very good record in retaining graduates within the geographical region.
“That’s something we don’t hear enough about,” he told councillors.
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