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Redundancies proposed in sustainability plan for Dundalk Institute of Technology

Third level institution with 500 staff and 5,000 students running a €1.5m deficit

Redundancies or early retirements will be required at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) if staffing costs cannot be cut, according to a sustainability plan for the higher education institution.

Financial statements show the institute, one of only two third-level Institutes in the country that is not part of a technological university, has been running deficits in recent years.

The Irish Times understands that a sustainability plan, prepared by consulting firm Mazars and adopted by the institute, proposes cutting staff numbers if pay cost savings are not achieved.

More than 500 staff are employed at the institution which has about 5,000 students enrolled.


Higher Education Authority records show the Department of Further and Higher Education has been engaging with DKIT on the sustainability plan of which a “key element is a reduction in staff costs which will require a redundancy/early retirement package”.

In a statement, DKIT confirmed that “alternative measures” such as voluntary redundancies or early retirements are outlined in the plan, but only if other pay cost savings are not archived.

“There are no arrangements or agreements in place in the technological university/institute of technology sector for compulsory redundancy or a programme of redundancy/early retirement,” DKIT said.

“Any such arrangements must first be subject to discussions and agreement between the ICTU public services committee and the Department of Public Expenditure.”

DKIT reported a lower deficit than forecasted for the year ended August 2022 of €1.2 million. Draft financial statements for the year ended August 2023 suggest a deficit of approximately €1.5 million has been incurred.

“This again is a more favourable outcome than forecasted. The institute would like to acknowledge the work of staff and stakeholders for their work in successfully implementing the sustainability plan to date,” DKIT said in a statement.

Financial records show the institute is aiming to return to a break-even situation in 2024/2025.

The Institute has been engaged with the Higher Education Authority over the past year since it became clear that its financial performance had deteriorated over recent years which, in turn, reduced its income and expenditure reserve.

Financial records indicate that the pandemic resulted in a loss of student and commercial income, although additional funding provided by the Higher Education Authority alleviated some additional costs. However, it notes that “loss in income streams were borne solely by the institute”.

It also says there were challenges engaging students with their studies and this resulted in lower than expected progression rates from one year of study to the next.

“Student and staff supports were under continuous review throughout the academic/financial year to address those challenges,” the accounts note.

One informed source said the institute has been encouraged by an increase in student numbers this year, driven mainly by enrolments from Northern Ireland.

Concern has been expressed in the past year by unions over the strategic direction of DKIT and claims that it has been “left behind” in the move to create technological universities.

In recent months, however, staff were informed that DKIT and Maynooth University are having preliminary discussions over closer co-operation.

A likely first step could involve students who wish to pursue a master’s degree or a PhD receiving a Maynooth University accredited award. A merger, however, is some way off, according to sources.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent