MUNSTER Technological University (MTU) will need an additional 60,000 square metres of space to cater for student numbers in the next decade, as its chairperson warned that lack of buildings and services is a “major issue”.
Speaking at an Oireachtas Education Committee, Jimmy Deenihan, chair of MTU’s governing body, said MTU must “increase its capacity significantly” to meet demands.
MTU currently has over 14,000 full time students, across six campuses in Cork and Kerry, including campuses in Bishopstown in Cork, Tralee, the Cork School of Music, Cork College of Art & Design, and the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy.
Mr Deenihan said that improving infrastructure across MTU should be a priority, in the face of rapid anticipated growth in student numbers.
“A major issue for us is a lack of buildings and services,” he said.
“We anticipate student growth at a rate of 35% over the decade. Based on a norm of 10 metres squared per student, MTU requires a further 60,000 metres squared of space to meet demand.”
MTU is one of five newly formed TU’s in Ireland, which are key to a national higher education strategy to create better access and progression for science and technology programmes, with a vocational focus.
Mr Deenihan highlighted the disparities in funding and borrowing rules for newly formed universities and traditional universities, which currently inhibit growth and development for TU’s.
He pointed out that there is not yet a framework for TU’s to borrow money for capital investment in infrastructure such as college buildings, or student accommodation.
He said that such funding for upgrading and providing new facilities is “crucial” to meet the demands of significant growth in student numbers over the years, as MTU is now the largest provider of craft apprenticeships in the State.
“Down in Bishopstown in Cork, there’s a building there from 1974, it’s not fit for purpose. If we want really to attract more students into our TU’s across the country, then we have to have top class facilities,” he said.
“It’s all incremental it doesn’t happen overnight, but it has to start somewhere. There should be a major building programme scheduled for TU’s to bring them up to the standard of a traditional university.”