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Dr. Barry O'Connor, interim President of CIT, who has said the time is right to consider a northside campus.
Dr. Barry O'Connor, interim President of CIT, who has said the time is right to consider a northside campus.
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CIT President: It's time for a Northside campus

THE President of CIT has said that the time is right to re-open discussions about a northside third level campus.

Dr Barry O'Connor, the interim President of CIT, made the comment after census results revealed a shocking divide in the numbers accessing third level education in the city.

Areas to the west and south of Cork, including Bishopstown, Douglas and Glasheen show a significantly higher portion of 20-year-olds registered as full-time students than areas north of the River Lee.

While Bishopstown, Glasheen and Wilton all enjoy more than 80% or higher in access, Knocknaheeny (37%), Mayfield (25%) and parts of Fairhill are significantly lower.

Dr O'Connor said, "I would be open to re-opening the discussion for a northside campus. These figures confirm, on an overall basis, the continuing national challenge to ensure equal access for all citizens to educational opportunity."

The information released is divided by electoral division, with 95.2% of 20-year-olds in the Bishopstown A division registered as a full-time student, according to the data.

The lowest rate in the city was recorded in the Fairhill A electoral division, which reported that 0% of the 20-year-olds in the area were full-time students at the time of the census.

Census data shows that the area also has one of the smallest populations in the city, though, with just 33 20-24-year-olds living in the area at the time.

Neighbouring divisions like Fairhill B and Churchfield both showed enrollment rates of more than 40%, with Knocknaheeny coming in at 37.3%.

Just 25.7% of 20-year-olds in Mayfield were full-time students at the time of the census, which is a stark contrast to nearby Montenotte, which showed 88.9%.

Over the last two decades, the prospect of a CIT campus on the northside of the river has been mooted on a number of occasions, with Farranferris one of the areas proposed.

However, the plans have yet to be realised.

The figures were recorded on census night in April 2016, meaning a larger number of students would have been present at the time in each area. However, Dr O'Connor added that there are still challenges and called for the extension of existing education partnerships in Cork.

"There are a number of programmes in place across the city, and nationally, to support equal access to education, spanning the DEIS schools initiative at primary school level to programmes at third level, such as the Cork Colleges Progression Scheme, a formal and active programme between CIT and Cork ETB," he said.

"The National Access Plan supports a number of initiatives in this space, but a lot more must be done. Locally CIT, UCC, ETB and Cork City Council showcased how, as a city, Cork is recognised globally as a UNESCO Learning City during the recent Global Learning City Conference at City Hall, a centrepiece being the Lifelong Learning Festival showcase.

"Partneships such as we have in Cork is the way forward for lifelong access to education."