Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) members during a lunchtime protest

BLANCHARDSTOWN’S only third-level institution is in danger of losing its ability to grow if funding from the Department of Education is not increased, a lecturer has warned.
Speaking to The Gazette, following a lunchtime protest by Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) members at Institute of Technology Blanchardstown on Thursday, November 26, Nathalie Cazaux, TUI ITB branch secretary said that a merger of ITB, IT Tallaght and DIT has been proposed due to a lack of resources.
She went on to say that ITB has seen an enrolment increase of around 94.8% between 2008 and 2015 which, coupled with a 0.9% reduction in staff and a 22.7% reduction in funding over the same period is a recipe for disaster.
She said that this created a situation where a merger between the institutes in Tallaght, Blanchardstown and the city may be necessary for the survival of the institutions.
She said that it is not yet clear whether this would necessitate the college moving from its premises beside Corduff.
“There are plans in Blanchardstown for merging between DIT and IT Tallaght. We might lose opportunities to develop if we are the smallest part of a big institution, we would lose our independence. The fear is that the community in Blanchardstown might lose out,” she said.
She added that the cutbacks have drastically impacted on the students as, due to the lack of available staff the library can’t stay open as long as it should and students do not have enough time to study and source material.
“We are gravely concerned by the severe effects that these cutbacks are having on the quality of experience for students in the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown,” she said.
The protest was part of a wider day of strike action by lecturers at Institutes of Technology throughout the country.
Lecturers and researchers will be balloted by TUI in the coming weeks on engagement in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in order to secure a resolution to their key issues of concern.
The TUI says that institutes of technology are regional generators of innovation and entrepreneurship and need to be appropriately funded in order to kick-start jobs growth and build high level knowledge capacity to meet the future needs of the economy. The local economy would also be greatly boosted by such investment.
TUI is advocating more substantial and strategic budgets to support the regional mission of the Institutes and boost economic recovery at a local level.
“We are urging that lecturers, students and all concerned in the locality make this an election issue in the coming months,” said Cazaux.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education said it is currently implementing reforms to tackle casualization (no set contract or hours) in the teaching profession on foot of a report last year by an expert group.
“These changes allow all fixed-term teachers to acquire permanent positions more easily and quickly, and enable part-time teachers to gain additional hours.
“A similar expert group looking at issues in higher education institutions, including Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown, is currently preparing a report,” they said.