THE Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has confirmed that it is seeking university status.
The DIT governing body has authorised the institute 's president, Prof Brian Norton, to write to Minister Mary Hanafin to set the process in motion.
The request will be made under Section 9 of the 1997 Universities Act. This allows the Government to appoint a body, which will include international experts, to advise the Higher Education Authority on university status.
The DIT request has taken on an added urgency following a surprise announcement from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that a preliminary independent examination of the submission made by the Waterford Institute of Technology for upgrading will be commissioned.
The Waterford case has received strong backing from Dr Edward Walsh, President Emeritus at the University of Limerick.
"The stark reality is that the southeast is the only region of its size and population in Ireland without a university that can justify such provision," he said. "The case for the University of the South East is compelling from an economic development and social equity perspective and this is true of no other Irish region. The strongly supportive remarks made by An Taoiseach on Monday - delivered fittingly as he opened the ArcLab Research & Innovation Centre at the Institute‘s new West Campus - demonstrated a very clear commitment on the part of Government to addressing the southeast's deficit through the formation of a regional university," said Dr Walsh.
Meanwhile, the Cork Institute of Technology said that if an examination was to be commissioned, it should examine the sector as a whole, to ensure that policy decisions arising from a report did not undermine the sector.
"The publication of the 2006 Institutes of Technology Bill was the culmination of a three-year examination of the sector, which began in 2003 with publication of the Expert Working Group Report on the future position and roles of Institutes of Technology and continued with the 2004 OECD Review of Higher Education Policy in Ireland," said a spokeswoman.
"We believe that the 2004 OECD report was correct, and understand that this has been accepted as the basis for Government policy.
"We remain committed to the binary system, but if changes are to be made we would have concerns in terms of ensuring parity of resources."