A number of colleges in the south of the country are having talks about possible mergers and submissions on university status to Government in the future.

The Institute of Technologies in Waterford and Cork have been in talks about possibly combining forces to look for University of Technology status.

Last week a major strategy document on Higher Education was published.

In light of the Hunt Report, the President and chairperson of WIT have revealed they were in talks with CIT and a number of other colleges over the past while with a view to jointly applying for university status.

What it would mean in effect would be the merger of CIT and WIT and the new entity, whenever it is formed, then applying for university status as it would have a certain 'critical mass' of student numbers and far greater research funding potential.

WIT management says the southeast will therefore get a university at some stage in the future, but the most likely route to that would be a technological university involving Cork.

There are currently 6,000 full-time students at WIT and 3,000 part-time students; CIT has 6,000 full-time and 6,000 part-time students.

WIT has been campaigning for a university for the southeast for the past decade and says it is a very positive development to be in discussions with Cork.

Legislation governing technological universities has not yet been drawn up and it will be up to the in-coming government to do so, says WIT management.