FURTHER BLOW TO CASTLEBAR CAMPUS Fine Gael TD, Alan Dillon.
TD Alan Dillon says he is ‘appalled’ at the decision to close the business department in GMIT’s Castlebar campus. The decision, which was taken last Sunday, advised the 20 staff working in the department to report to the Galway campus.
The Fine Gael TD said: “The decision was obviously made without consultation with staff and students, no business subjects appeared on the CAO application form 2020 for the GMIT Mayo campus.
“I am appalled at this turn of events, and it’s a further blow to the campus and the students who have gone through a very stressful year so far.”
He added: “In light of the current situation with Covid-19 there is a huge opportunity to develop extra courses at the Mayo campus instead of reducing them.”
Deputy Dillon has called on Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris to address the decision ‘as a matter of urgency’. However, speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), Deputy Dillon said that the response he received from his query to the minister gave no indication that the decision would be reversed.
“If we’re serious about the Mayo campus, closing down a business department flies in the face of all recommendations in the working group’s report,” he said, referring to the report on the sustainability plan for the Castlebar campus commissioned in December 2017.
The Fine Gael TD said he has submitted a number of parliamentary questions to the minister regarding the status of the Castlebar campus and the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
The former Mayo footballer also called for a representative from the Castlebar campus to be appointed to the GMIT governing board.
GMIT addressed the decision in a statement, saying that it was currently liaising with Sligo IT and Letterkenny IT to make a submission to become a technological university.
The statement read: “GMIT has already articulated its full commitment to multi-disciplinary provision at its Mayo campus, including business, but also sees exciting opportunities arising from the growing critical mass and expertise on the campus in health care and wellbeing.
“A more complete description of the reorganisation includes the proposed establishment of a new academic school for GMIT, led from the focused expertise that has been quietly growing at the Mayo campus.”
It continued: “GMIT staff across all five campuses have proven themselves to be very agile in adapting to the constraints arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, proving that location is no barrier to effective delivery of services.”
On the issue of relocation, Deputy Dillon commented: “I would question that as an opportunity to redeploy all services back to Galway, which is contrary to what we need in the Mayo GMIT working group report, which is all about providing ring-fenced funding of €750,000 per annum over the next five years to implement the recommendations.”
He added: “In light of that, they’re asking that delivery of services is the most important aspect of the Castlebar campus, and I would say we should be delivering services out of that campus, not redeploying them.”
The first-time TD said that the role of the Castlebar campus needed to be made ‘crystal clear’ if it were to become part of a technological university.
GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn said: “I am very happy to engage with all stakeholders as to the exciting opportunities that arise from what is an ongoing internal reorganisation. It is intended that this reorganisation will enhance our offerings and services, not diminish them.
“What we are trying to do is to enable the full range of expertise across all of GMIT to be harnessed in service of the wider region. This challenge is one that will also be faced by our new technological university.
“I hope to follow through on the establishment of the new school in the coming months, and this will no doubt see additional opportunities emerging for the Mayo campus.”