The 12 other institutes of technology have now joined Waterford and Dublin looking for an upgrade in status.
The Government is already under fierce political and public pressure to cave in to demands from Waterford for university designation.
But now it is faced with similar demands from institutes around the country.
The remaining institutes say the present situation is ?not sustainable? and change is needed. The institute presidents say the only options for the Government are:
- Simply rename the institutes as universities.
- Bring in new arrangements between the institutes and existing universities.
- Create a new federal or central university for the institutes.
It is understood that most presidents favour the third option of a federal Technological University of Ireland with the institutes designated as constituent colleges.
The idea has already been discussed with senior officials in the Department of Education and Science. A Technological University would work along the same lines as the National University of Ireland which has UCD, UCC, Galway and Maynooth as constituent universities.
All three options would mean that institute graduates would be conferred with university qualifications, which could give them higher status.
The statement from the institute presidents warns that a battle between the agencies of the State and institutions over irrelevant divisions in higher education is not in the interests of anybody.
But such a battle may well be on the cards as some senior university sources insisted that it would not be a good idea to upgrade so many institutions. We already have seven universities for a country of just over four million people,? one said. Institute staff are not obliged to do research, whereas university academics are. The danger is that resources would be spread too thin and we would have difficulty sustaining worthwhile centres of excellence.
The Government has to decide shortly if the case made by the Waterford Institute should be considered under Section 9 of the Universities Act.
DkIT President Denis Cummins has signed the statement seeking an upgrade in status for ITs.