There are no plans at present to change the status of the Institute of Technology in Sligo. In July 1996, the Government approved in principle the recommendations in the report of the steering committee on the future development of higher education as a benchmark for future planning in the sector, subject to regular review. The steering committee report endorsed the maintenance of a diversified system of higher education to meet the varying needs of students, society and the economy. The report did not recommend any change in status for the institutes of technology.
Subsequent to publication of the steering committee's report, arrangements were put in place for a process to enable institutes to apply for delegated authority to make awards within a national qualifications framework. This process was initiated through the appointment of an interim review group chaired by Professor Dervilla Donnelly. As part of this process, the interim review group undertook an academic review of the institute of technology in Sligo. This academic review, which was published in March 2000, recommended that the institute of technology in Sligo would have the delegated power to make awards in respect of national certificate and diploma courses.
The provisions of section 29(8) of the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999, will enable me to give effect to the recommendations of the review group and I propose to do so when the relevant sections of the Act are brought into operation in the near future.
My policy is to continue to develop a framework for the structured development of institutions in the technological sector to address changing local and national demands, while ensuring the maintenance of the complementary third level systems of university and technological education. The diversity of institutions and the separate missions of the two broad sectors will be maintained so as to ensure maximum flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of students and to the wide variety of social and economic requirements. The institute of technology in Sligo will continue to play a major role in Irish higher education.