Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Questions (171)

Seán Crowe

Question:

273 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount estimated will be saved by her Department by the closure and transfer of training from a college (details supplied) in County Dublin to a college in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25590/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

The issue of the future of the college, which is the subject of the question posed by the Deputy, arose in the context of a decision by the trustees of the college that, due to personnel and financial considerations, they were no longer in a position to fulfil the role of trustees of the college. Following discussions between the trustees and my Department, it was agreed that a consultant would be appointed who would meet with relevant parties and prepare a report on the options for the college's future.

The consultant's report was thoroughly examined in my Department and the options for the future of the college were set out for my predecessor's consideration. Having carefully considered all of them and having taken into account other factors, such as the national spatial strategy, relevant costs in a time of financial constraint, a Government decision to restrict public service numbers, the need to secure value for money and a better allocation of resources, the former Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, decided that these considerations are best served by the closure of the college and the designation of St. Angela's College, Sligo, as the sole centre for the training of home economics teachers.

My Department expects that, arising from operational efficiencies and economies of scale, some level of savings in current expenditure will be achieved as a result of the decision to concentrate the future of home economics teacher training in St. Angela's College, Sligo. The Deputy will be aware that the closure of the college and the transfer of home economics education to St. Angela's College, Sligo, means that this process is essentially in a transitional phase at present. As such, it is difficult to estimate accurately at this stage what those savings will be.

In the context of capital expenditure, the position is different. If my Department pursued any of the options as discussed in the consultancy study in regard to maintaining the college in Dublin, it would have involved a significant capital outlay. It is difficult to estimate accurately the level of capital costs involved, particularly in view of the level of negotiations required to agree a price for the purchase of property in the Dublin region, combined with the length of time which has lapsed since the completion of the report in question.