The Minister of State for Public Transport, Alan Kelly, has welcomed the Higher Education Authority report as offering a lifeline to St Patrick’s College Thurles. The report by the Higher Education Authority was carried out to outline the future of third-level colleges nationally in Ireland.
It recommends that St Patrick’s College should continue to form an important role in the re-organisation of the country’s higher education sector.
Previously the HEA had wanted to close St.Patrick’s down but the report has recognised their potential to negotiate a niche working as an agent of Limerick colleges, UL and Mary Immaculate.
“I am delighted through my own work, the HEA has now recognised a possible lifeline for the college being a contract agent for Limerick colleges. This opportunity was raised with me by management at the college and I brought this directly to Minister Quinn and I welcome a change in the HEA’s position towards St Patricks,” he said.
The report was also welcomed by Deputy Noel Coonan, who said the college was accepting an intake of new students this year.
“Discussions are ongoing to formulate how St Patrick’s College can work with Mary Immaculate College and University of Limerick as a linked private provider to the Limerick Centre of Excellence.
“If this proposal comes to fruition, it will be very positive for St Patrick’s College and I will be doing all possible to bring it to a successful conclusion. I have been working closely with Fr Tom Fogarty, director of the college and the board of management and I want to acknowledge the work they have carried out to progress the college’s future.
“The HEA report recognises that workings at St Patrick’s College are at a very sensitive stage and I am encouraging all stakeholders, and in particular the Government, to guarantee the college as a teaching college into the future,” continued Deputy Coonan.
“I hope that the potential at St Patrick’s College, as recognised in the report, leads to the college becoming an integral part of the centre of excellence,” concluded Deputy Coonan.
In its report, the HEA said the College has good facilities and a cadre of staff that can be employed in aspects of teacher professional development. The contribution the College can make as a linked private provider to the Limerick Centre of Excellence, should be explored by the parties as the Centre is developed and plans agreed with the HEA