THE Minister of State for Further Education has said that the TUI vote at WIT rejecting the terms for the proposed new new technological university is "hopefully" only a minor setback.
Fianna Fail's Niall Collins, who is the Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, said what has happened is a bit of a "bump on the rollercoaster" and hopefully, the Governing bodies of both WIT and IT Carlow will be able to find a way to move the process on when they have their respective meetings this week.
It was confirmed on Friday evening last that members of the Teachers Union of Ireland at WIT had voted to reject the new Memorandum of Understanding for the Technological University of the South East.
The postal ballot by the TUI to its Waterford branch members had a low turnout.
There are 542 academic staff members at WIT and just 110 votes were cast. Its reported that the result of the vote was 47 for and 60 against.
This is a turn-around from the last vote which WIT accepted and IT Carlow rejected. This time around, IT Carlow accepted the Memorandum of Understanding by 71 votes to 8.
Speaking to Damien Tiernan on 'Deise Today' this morning, Niall Collins said people in this region want to see a technological university here - and the region deserves one.
He said almost 10% of the country's population are based in this region and it would be really helpful in terms of balanced regional development and attracting foreign direct investment.
"But it's most important for the learners who want to attend a university in their own locality," he told Damien Tiernan.
Waterford-based Minister Mary Butler (also FF) said Waterford cannot afford to lose this opportunity.
"We cannot afford to lose Waterford City University status, we cannot afford to lose a university of international standing for the South East,"she said.
The brain drain of our best and brightest cannot continue. We see 13,000 students leaving the region every week to attend university in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin and these young people should have the same option here in Waterford."
Meanwhile, in a statement issued today, President of WIT, Willie Donnelly expressed his "disappointment" with the result of the ballot by the Institute's TUI branch members.
"I am hugely proud of the level of engagement and commitment of our staff to the delivery of a technological university for the region, with our partner IT Carlow," said Willie Donnelly.
"It is important that we focus our energies on the delivery of the technological university so desperately needed for the region and I will continue to engage in an open and productive way to deliver a university of international standing for the region."
You can listen back to the TUI vote discussion, and to the entire Deise Today programme from this morning, by clicking below here...