The Future of GMIT Mayo Campus.

So much for decentralisation!  So much for rural development!

Who has taken the decision to downgrade the Mayo Campus of GMIT?  As ever, and as per the closure of hospital A&Es, specialist wards, respite centres, we don’t know.  We know that  the decision has been taken.  That’s clear.  Members of the staff at GMIT Mayo have contacted me and have outlined the steps already taken to this end.  Run the place down and then tell all concerned that the place is so run down that it’s not viable.  We’ve seen this routine before.

However we do know who is responsible.  Our Minister for Education Richard Bruton TD is.  He, and he alone can direct the resources of his department.   

How much will be saved by this decision?  Nothing.  In fact if we really analyse this decision we might find that there is a massive loss.  The civil servants in the Department of Education have some notion that one campus must be more efficient than two.  How simplistic.  How sad.  How backward. 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?  Have they accounted for the urbanisation of Galway and the depopulation of our countryside that will result from this decision?

In this time of the internet and email communication, this decision makes absolutely no sense. Institutions all over the world are diversifying.  Open University led the way in the 1990s.  One finds Universities with campuses in the most remote of places. I’ve no doubt that many of the academics within GMIT will know of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) a movement that is revolutionising education.  This decision goes against any sort of progressive thought.

We know the routine.  Run the place down.  Build up statistics that make their case. And then tell us all how hopeless the situation is.  Next we know the entire Mayo campus is unsafe!  Let’s get HIQUA in to condemn the place.  Or some such racket.  And all this because some top civil servants went to a lecture from some PhD consultant types who know all about efficiency. We’ve seen it all before.

Closing Mayo campus demonstrates the crux of Irish politics.  On the one hand we have backward, slow, closeted civil servants, guided by some antiquated idea that bigger is better, weather it is hospitals or third level educational institutions.  On the other hand we have a weak Minister who as part of a cabinet is supposed to be above all this advice and who can look out for the bigger picture.  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. 

There should be a battle between civil servants and elected representatives.  That would be a healthy battle.  Sadly none seems to exist in Ireland.