The Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, today 15th December 2017 published the report of the Working Group on the future of the Castlebar campus of GMIT.
The Working Group was established by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., and the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, in March 2017. The objective of the Working group was to formulate a plan for the sustainable future of the GMIT Mayo Campus in Castlebar.
The Working Group was chaired by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and comprised representatives from GMIT, the Department of Education and Skills, and important local stakeholders such as Mayo County Council and local business interests.
The report provides a wide-ranging assessment of the context within which the Campus is currently operating, and outlines a proposed vision for the Mayo Campus, as well as a strategic and comprehensive plan to address the financial and sustainability issues which have been experienced by the GMIT Mayo Campus in recent years.
In publishing the report, Minister Mitchell O’Connor pointed to some of the measures that would be implemented by her Department to support a sustainable future for the GMIT Mayo Campus:
“I welcome the report of the Working Group. It provides a roadmap for the sustainable future of GMIT in Castlebar. My Department will be working with the HEA and GMIT to ensure that the recommendations are implemented as quickly as possible. I am pleased to announce today that I will be providing ring fenced funding of €750,000 for the Castlebar campus for each of the next five years while the plan is being implemented. I will also be providing capital funding for the replacement of the roof of the GMIT campus that is currently in need of repair. These, along with the implementation of the other recommendations by GMIT, will ensure that the future of the GMIT Castlebar campus is secured”.
Other key recommendations to be progressed by GMIT will be the recruitment of a permanent head of campus for Castlebar, the establishment of a sub-committee of the GMIT governing body to oversee the development of the Mayo campus, and the appointment of an interim independent external facilitator to work with the executive board, campus and other stakeholders to oversee the transition to the new structural and operational arrangements.
The Working Group’s recommendations will be implemented over the next five years, over the period 2018-2022, with a review of progress at the end of year 2. There will also be formal progress reports to be submitted to the GMIT Governing Body and the HEA every four months.
Minister Mitchell O’ Connor thanked those who had contributed to the Working Group report:
“I would like to thank the members of the Working Group for their participation, as well as those stakeholders who contributed to the process. This includes the Governing Body and management team of GMIT, staff and students in GMIT, and local stakeholders. I hope that we can continue to work together in implementing the recommendations in the Working Group report. The clear message from the publication of the Working Group report today is that the Castlebar campus is open for business and that it will continue to play a vital role in the years ahead in providing educational and training opportunities in the Galway Mayo region and contributing to local and regional economic growth”.
GMIT Working Group
The GMIT Working Group was chaired by the HEA and comprised representatives of GMIT, the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA. The brief of the working group was to formulate a plan towards a sustainable future and growth options for GMIT Mayo Campus, Castlebar.
The Working Group engaged extensively with the local community and business interests, staff and students of GMIT, the executive and board of GMIT, local public representatives, and other stakeholders. This included a number of meetings and open fora.
To inform the work of the Group, a base of information was gathered including an analysis of labour market needs in the region, student supply and demand, the role of the further education sector and the impact of the campus on the local and regional economy. The views of external stakeholders were sought in relation to these matters and 23 submissions were received and considered by the Working Group. These views and submissions were considered by the Working Group and have fed into its overall deliberations, resulting in the compilation of the final report.
Key recommendations of the Working Group Report:
• The appointment of a dedicated permanent head of Mayo campus at vice-president to lead the practical delivery of this plan. (Recommendation 1)
• Establishment of a sub-committee of the GMIT governing body to oversee the development of the Mayo campus.
• Greater Mayo representation on the governing body should be facilitated where possible and within relevant policy and legislative frameworks
• Appointment of an interim independent external facilitator to work with the executive board, campus and other stakeholders to oversee the transition to the new structural and operational arrangements
• New programme development to be aligned with institute and campus strategies, the regional skills audit and market research including engagement with regional employers and representative groups
• The potential for development of new apprenticeship proposals (e.g. digital media, sales skills) should be investigated
• International and postgraduate offerings to be further developed to diversify the campus income base
• A mapping exercise should be undertaken with further education to build and communicate new progression pathways
• The Mayo Campus should continue its development as a centre of excellence for lifelong learning within GMIT
• A distinct marketing plan should be developed & implemented supported by a new dedicated marketing resource , with a major re-launch campaign for 2018/19
• Part of the roof to be replaced as soon as possible
• The development of a campus enterprise development strategy
• GMIT should seek designation of the campus as eligible for additional multi-campus funding when the new HEA funding model is established
• GMIT should seek time bound ring-fenced funding to allow the plan to be fully implemented and ensure future campus sustainability
• GMIT should engage with the DES on seeking approval to participate in a voluntary redundancy scheme