Update – Marine Minister to assess impact LYIT Killybegs move on Seafood innovation Centre plans

Minister Simon Coveney
Minister Simon Coveney

Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney has said he'll make enquiries about LYIT's plan to relocate it's School of Tourism from Killybegs to Letterkenny.

The proposal is contained in the institute's three year financial plan, which was presented to the Higher Education Authority today.

Donegal South West Deputy Thomas Pringle raised the issue in the Dail, in the context of the fact that the institute has been working closely with BIM for the past two years to develop a Seafood Innovation Centre in Killybegs under a government backed plan.

Minister Coveney responded that while Killybegs is the most logical location for the proposed centre, he cannot interfere in the running of LYIT, and will make enquiries...........

[podcast]http://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/covenkillybegs.mp3[/podcast]

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Earlier story -

The Letterkenny Institute of Technology run School of Tourism is in Killybegs is to be integrated into the Letterkenny Campus.

It is the favoured option contained in the Financial Plan drawn up by LYIT's government body for the next three years.

There had been anger in the Killybegs area and beyond when it was first mooted that the Tourism College could be moved to Letterkenny.

A packed public meeting heard of its importance to the town - however, at a recent council meeting a number of Councillors suggested that if it were not moved to Letterkenny it could be lost to Sligo or Galway.

It is understood that a difficulty in attracting new students to Killybegs was one of the key issues.

Today the  governing body has approved a three year plan which makes provision for the move, which the body says seems inevitable.

The option of retaining the Killybegs campus has also been considered, but the statement says in light of a projected deficit of 1.9 million euro, 75% of which is attributed to maintaining the Killybegs campus, staying in Killybegs is not viable without extra funding.

The move to Letterkenny will require capital funding from the Higher Education Authority, and in a worst case scenario, the governing body says the  option of ceasing School of Tourism operations is also on the table. However, the statement stresses that will only happen if neither of the other two options are achievable.

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This afternoon's full statement reads as follows -

At the LYIT Governing Body meeting held earlier today (20/6/13), the Governing Body approved the Institute's three Year Financial Plan which was requested by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

This plan was requested in the context of the overall financial stability of the Institute. LYIT has had its core funding cut by 43% in the last 5 years with a commensurate reduction of over 70 staff. The Institute has projected an average on-going operating deficit of €1.9 m per annum over the coming years.

In the context of the sustainability of the Institute as a whole, the stated objective of the Institute’s Executive is to retain autonomy in decision making and to address the Institute’s financial deficit. Given that 75% of the projected deficit is attributable to the School of Tourism, Killybegs the Financial Plan addresses three options for the future of the School of Tourism -
Option 1 - Continue current operations in Killybegs
Option 2 – Cease School of Tourism activities in LYIT
Option 3 – Move School of Tourism to Letterkenny on a phased basis.

Option 1, given the current funding model for Institutes of Technology, is not a viable option unless the HEA makes additional funding available.
Option 3 is the option on which the Financial Plan is based, subject to capital funding being made available from the HEA.

Option 2 will only be considered in the context of neither options 1 nor 3 being available to the Institute.

The Governing Body is acutely aware of its responsibilities to the Institute and to the wider region and has approved the Executive’s Financial Plan in this context. The Governing Body also understands and appreciates the difficulties currently being faced in south west Donegal through representations from various community groups and individuals.

In this regard, the Governing Body proposes the establishment of a forum comprising of Institute and Killybegs community representatives to engage with and keep the community appraised of on-going developments with the HEA.

As previously stated, staff, current and prospective students can be assured that there will be no impact on the intake on School of Tourism programmes for the academic year 2013/14.
The Financial Plan will be submitted to the HEA tomorrow, 21 June 2013.