The purchase of a new greenfield site for the Wexford Campus of Carlow IT is 'imminent' according to college management as the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton announced his approval for the project in the Dáil.
Carlow IT has not yet publicly disclosed the location of the site but it is understood to be a 35-acre plot of land opposite Wexford Racecourse on the Newtown Road where a new purpose-built college campus will be developed.
Pricing and contracts have been agreed by the Institute of Technology for the purchase of the land and the sale is proceeding through the legal process, a college spokesperson has confirmed. 'The Institute has been assured that the final sign-off by the vendor is imminent', she said.
'Procurement of the new greenfield site is the first phase in a significant and long-term strategic plan for Wexford Campus which includes a seven phase long-term capital investment programme in Wexford', the spokesperson added.
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) gave Carlow IT permission in 2015 to acquire a site in a prime location in Wexford after the college carried out a review of accommodation options and made a convincing case to the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA for a new purpose-built campus which will replace existing buildings in use at both St. Peter's College and the old County Hall in Spawell Road.
'A new customised campus located on a prime site in County Wexford is a much-needed development and would greatly enable the development of the Wexford Campus in terms of the breadth and depth of higher education provision necessary to respond to the variety of challenges identified for County Wexford and the South East region', said the Wexford Campus spokesperson.
'Ultimately, investment in the necessary physical infrastructure for higher education provision in Couny Wexford will accelerate the realisation of the multi-campus Technological University for the South East region and this is the priority for the region and the Institute of Technology Carlow,' she added.
The Wexford Campus was established by IT Carlow in 1995 to respond to the educational needs of County Wexford and the South East region.
It has grown rapidly in the intervening years in terms of student numbers, the range of courses offered and the national and international collaborations organised in the private and public sectors.
Over 250 graduates from the Wexford Campus are conferred every year with higher education awards up to honours degree and masters degree level in Business, Computing, Technology. Arts and Humanities.
According to the college, the Wexford Campus is now an inegral part of IT Carlow's ambitiouis vision for higher education in the South East and the development of a multi-campus Technological University in partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology.
Meanwhile, in the Dail last week, the Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he is supportive of the acquisition by Carlow IT of a site in Wexford for the development of a purpose-built campus and added that funding had been allocated for the land purchase. The funding level is believed to be in the region of €2 million.
Minister Bruton was responding to a parliamentary question by the Wexford Fianna Fail TD James Browne who asked if the planned national capital investment projects in institutes of technology will examine the creation of a south eastern university using Carlow, Wexford and Waterford campuses.
Deputy Bruton said the Technological University for the South-East consortium comprising WIT and IT Carlow has already been given €0.57 million for project development.E
Earlier this year, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) made a call seeking submissions for funding from consortia with €6 million in finance available including €4 million which was ring-fenced for the development of technological universities in Budget 2017. Additional funding for the development of technological universities has also been secured in Budget 2018.
Last month, the Minister unveiled a capital investment programme in Institutes of Technology, to be delivered by Public Private Partnership (PPP). He said he was pleased to announce that major new buildings in both WIT and IT Carlkow will be included in this programme.
The WIT proposal relates to the construction of a new engineering, computing and general teaching building while the IT Carlow proposal involves the construction of a new science building.
Minister Bruton told Deputy Browne he was confident that the new buildings will greatly enhance the physical infrastructure available to the institutions in areas of key skills needs and will support their joint bid for Technological University designation.