Sheehan calls for University in Wexford

Michael Sheehan, Chairman of Wexford County Council and Fianna Fáil general election
candidate, calls for an end to the charade of Waterford and Carlow Institutes of Technology
attempting to merge to form Technical University of the Southeast (TUSE). “Talks of a
merge have been going on for nearly a decade now. Virtually all we have is the brand name
TUSE and nothing to show for it. It’s time for action now or to seek alternatives. Wexford
needs a substantial third level campus in the county.” Waterford IT and IT Carlow initiated
the TUSE project in 2011, produced a submission to government in 2012 and conducted a
consultation exercise with stakeholders in 2014, publishing their vision in 2015. When the
Technological Universities Bill came into law in March 2018, other regions immediately took
advantage1. “After nine years, we still do not appear to be much closer to a substantial TU
campus in Wexford. This slow progress is hurting all of Wexford. In the meantime, TU
Dublin commenced operation last year and here at home Georgia Southern established a
campus in Wexford, over a far shorter timescale”.

Wexford is the largest of the eleven counties in Ireland without a substantial third level
campus, leading to just 24.5% of our county’s adult population having 3rd level education. In
the west and south west of the county it is worse, with only 22.5% with 3rd level. This is two
thirds of national average of 33%2.

Most of the other counties without such a campus are within an easy daily commute to a
choice of universities and institutes of technology. Six of those eleven counties are in
Leinster. “There’s more to Leinster than just Dublin, and with 150,000 population we need a
real and substantial campus in Wexford. While this obviously impacts young people and
their families, a substantial third level campus would make Wexford more attractive to
industry. Companies, particularly high potential start-ups and foreign direct investment

multinationals actively seek to cluster around a substantial third level campus” said
Councillor Sheehan this morning as he observed the early bus queues in New Ross.
“The consequence of years of neglect and squabbling between WIT and IT Carlow is that
Wexford is not an IDA ready county”. There were with four IDA visits to the county with
potential employers in the first nine months of 2019 and three visits in all of 2018. Many
counties received more than 20 IDA visits in the same period in 2019, with Louth hosting 32,
Sligo 24 and Clare 203. Every morning 24 buses and three trains leave the county4. “Our
young people spend more time on Wexford Bus than on Wexford streets, doomed to the
daily purgatory of commute to Dublin, Waterford or Carlow and the environmental
consequences of this travel. The alternative is the equally unacceptable expense of living
away from home, making college a far more expensive option for Co. Wexford students
compared to much of the country”. Wexford has the 4th lowest level of third level education
attainment in Ireland5.

As a first time Dáil candidate Michael, if elected, will fight on behalf of the younger
generation in Wexford for fair access to education at all levels and for an environment
where there are meaningful jobs in the county when they graduate. “As an educator, I look
at my secondary school students every day, knowing that I am educating them for export
from the county, not by choice but by necessity. This has to stop. The same won’t do.”
During Michael’s campaign he will be highlighting key policy areas that he will tackle if
elected including: creation of meaningful jobs, access to affordable housing, investment in
community health, investment in mental health resources for Wexford, urban and rural
development programmes, agriculture and the environment, and of course fair access to
education for all in Wexford.