In the coming weeks, the new chair of WIT Dick Langford will meet with Mike Kelly, the Minister for Education’s special nominee to get the Waterford IT and IT Carlow merger back on track. Langford replaces Donnie Ormonde. Ormonde may or may not have been asked by the Minister to resign, after Waterford IT suspended merger talks when it became clear that the merger would not bring about a university of the south east.
The Board of Waterford IT recently affirmed that the ITCarlow merger remains suspended, and even though the Board is concerned about Kelly’s limited terms of reference, after a heated discussion they have agreed to meet with Kelly.
So what should the newly appointed Langford say?
Waterford wants to stop the city and region's steady decline. The gap between Waterford and the three other regional cities in Ireland continues to widen. A new university is required to halt that decline. Waterford IT and the regional stakeholders made that case in 2005 when applying for a 'section 9' review that could have seen WIT become a university; and that request has been ignored by the Government, the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority.
It is clear that a technological university, as currently proposed will not halt the decline of the South-East region and Waterford City. The proposed TU will not be funded like a university, and it will not be recognised by the other universities as an equal. As a result it will be a pretend university. The city and region will not be bought off by this pretence.
Dick Langford, as a native Waterfordian, who grew up and was educated in Waterford and led the education services in the city, knows this better than anyone. He now has a decision to make. Will he fight for what he knows is right or will he try to sell the pretend process, with a pretend objective. His meeting with Kelly has the potential to bring clarity to a wider audience of the sell-out that has been attempted.