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Minister Harris: SETU will expand Waterford footprint

The Minister for Higher Education has confirmed the government's intention to expand SETU's footprint in Waterford.

Minister Simon Harris provided confirmation when speaking in response to Senator John Cummins in Seanad Eireann yesterday.

The Minister outlined his belief that SETU has the potential to grow and thrive into one of Ireland's finest universities.

He said despite some negative narratives, the government are committed to working for Waterford and the South East.

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"There will be some who constantly wish to denigrate or talk down the process. It is making real, tangible progress. I believe the people of Waterford get and know that, but he is right that they want to know what is next. They are dead right to want to know that. Since 2013, the Government has been providing significant financial support to technological universities, specifically the project in the south east, including Waterford, first through the higher education landscape fund and subsequently through the transformation fund. The establishment of the new technological university is a significant milestone for the region. I believe this new university will grow and thrive."

Minister Harris, has sought approval from the Department of Expenditure for the SETU to go ahead with formal negotiations for the former Waterford Crystal site on the Cork Road.

"To be categoric, it is the Government's intention to physically expand the footprint of the technological university in Waterford. I am strongly committed to this, as are the TΓ‘naiste, Taoiseach and all the other members of the Government. My Department is as well. We are doing this because we believe it will enable SETU to cater for and prepare for increased enrolments, with more students staying in and coming to Waterford."

While the process has been frustrating for many, the Minister was dismissive of certain narratives and says the intentions remain crystal clear.

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"If anybody in Waterford wishes for whatever reason to suggest that there is any sort of lacuna or vacuum here, factually it does not stack up. Designation day was May. We are standing here in September having gone through five steps. I am saying that I want to see the engagement taking place as quickly as possible. Obviously the budget has to be the first, second and third priority for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department now. However, I would like to see intensive engagement between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform towards the end of this month to try to move this project forward as quickly as possible."

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