LIMERICK Institute of Technology has insisted that its proposal to establish a technological university is a “long-term strategy” and that it is putting in place measures to ensure that staffing qualifications will meet the requirements of such a proposal.
LIT, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) announced recently that they, along with groupings of other ITs across the country, would be joining to create technological universities - in LIT’s case, the Munster Technological University.
However, a report in the Irish Examiner this week suggested that the chances of any of the ITs becoming colleges ‘look slim’ because some need to more than double their number of staff holding PhDs.
Criteria published by the Higher Education Authority last month has indicated that such qualification would require 45% of staff to hold PhDs and 90% of staff to hold a Level 9 qualification - a master’s degree or equivalent.
The number of staff with PhDs in LIT is at 14%.
LIT president Dr Maria Hinfelaar was not available for comment as she was travelling to the United States of America, but a spokesperson said the MTU proposal was “a long-term strategy”.
“We knew that we would fall short [of the criteria], as do most of the other ITs as well, but it is a long term thing, obviously we are going to put in place a programme for professional development so it will be a long term thing,” said the spokesperson.
“In the future, perhaps five years time, hopefully our figures might be up there so we meet the criteria.”
Dr Hinfelaar told the Limerick Leader in a recent interview that she was aware of the fact that there would “be quite stringent requirements for academic staff, in terms of their qualifications, that a fairly high percentage would have to have PhDs”.
“Where that bar will be, speculation would be around 45% - which none of us would come anywhere near. So you have to put in place a programme for professional development and we do have a number of academic staff taking PhDs, but until they qualify they won’t count towards that,” she explained.
However Dr Hinfelaar was confident that a programme of professional development would increase that number and declared herself “100 % confident” the proposal would go ahead.
“I don’t know how long it will take, but yes, we will get there. This is certainly key to LIT’s further development and continuing relevancy,” she declared.