Will it or won't it shut? It's been the question plaguing GMIT Mayo students and staff for years now. Once again the community has been left confused after MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan posted a lengthy statement about GMIT Mayo closing down only for the head of GMIT to say there are no plans to do so.
In the MEP's Facebook post, he said members of the staff at GMIT Mayo have contacted him and said the campus's plan is to "run the place down and then tell all concerned that the place is so run down that it’s not viable".
Apparently, the Minister for Education Richard Bruton TD is responsible. "He, and he alone can direct the resources of his department", Flanagan said.
"The civil servants in the Department of Education have some notion that one campus must be more efficient than two... Have they accounted for the loss of time due to the nightmare of Galway’s traffic? Have they accounted for the higher rents that students and their parents will have to pay?"
"Closing Mayo campus demonstrates the crux of Irish politics...Unfortunately the Minister is weak and all that he and his fellow Ministers have said about saving rural Ireland means nothing if he fails to act to keep the Mayo Campus open", he said.
To add more confusion, president of GMIT Dr. Fergal Barry told TheJournal.ie that Flanagan’s statements were not true:
“There has been no decision to downgrade the Mayo campus.
“In fact, we’re investing in the campus and have applied for capital funding through the Department of Education and through the Department of Sport.
"Like all institutions, we do discontinue courses. We have to deploy our resources responsibly. But we have introduced two new courses – early childhood care and applied social studies. The student numbers are going to grow but there are programmes that aren’t viable.
"There is no intention to close the Mayo campus. The Mayo campus hasn’t been downgraded", he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education reiterated Dr. Barry and said:
“The Minister on a recent visit to GMIT committed to the future of a vibrant Mayo campus.
"The President of GMIT has reaffirmed the commitment of the Institute to finding a viable development plan for the Mayo Campus ... This will include the further development of the Mayo Campus as a Centre of Excellence in Health Sciences.
“The Mayo Campus has a very important role to play in delivering economic growth and driving regional development".
Interesting. We wonder if students and staff can have any confidence that the Mayo Campus will be developed instead of closing for good. What do you think?