Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin has said the Government is fully committed to the Castlebar campus of GMIT.
Senator Mulherin together with Fine Gael colleagues Senator Paddy Burke and Senator John O’Mahony met this lunchtime with Education Minister Richard Bruton to iron out concerns about the future of the campus.
Senator Mulherin said: “The Minister has confirmed that the government is fully committed to the Castlebar Campus of GMIT and its future growth.
“This will involve developing new courses and responding to the growing demand for further education in order to ensure up-skilling and re-skilling of the labour force, which is set to continue and which has been identified by the OECD.
“There are also further opportunities to attract foreign students in the wake of Brexit who traditionally would have gone to the UK for third level education.”
She continued: “GMIT in Castlebar is a strategic asset for our people, our county and industry and our social and economic growth in the region. It has made third level education accessible for many people who would never be in a position to avail of it otherwise. Protecting and enhancing it is an imperative and a priority for myself and my colleagues.”
The management of GMIT and the Castlebar campus have met with the Higher Education Authority and prepared a recovery plan and there is ongoing engagement between the parties in that regard including measures being undertaken by GMIT to ensure the campus is sustainable, efficient and relevant to educational needs of students and industry now and into the future.
When this process is completed the HEA will then be in a position to decide what funding is required to help Castlebar campus.
Senator Mulherin said: “A similar process with the HEA has just been completed by the Killybegs campus of Letterkenny IT.
“This has resulted in funding of €3 million being made available to and ring fenced for the development of the Killybegs campus.
“When this process is completed we will be looking for funding for Castlebar and this was made clear to the Minister by myself, Senator Paddy Burke and Senator John O’Mahony. Also I am delighted to confirm it is the intention of the Minister to visit the campus before the end of the month.
“It is most important to acknowledge the excellent and successful ongoing courses which already exist on the Mayo Campus and the hardworking staff delivering them.
“We all need to promote Mayo as a great place to receive a third-level education. The fatalistic political campaigning we have seen recently putting in doubt the future of the Castlebar campus in the minds of would-be students needs to stop lest it does damage to Castlebar GMIT and becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.”