A new TU in Ireland’s north-west could ‘drive regional growth’

24 May 2021

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The Connacht Ulster Alliance has applied to establish a new technological university in the west and north-west.

Ireland may be getting another technological university next year in a move that could be of “critical importance” for the west and north-west of the country.

An application for technological university status has been made by the Connacht Ulster Alliance, which comprises Institute of Technology Sligo, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

The proposed technological university would bring together around 20,000 students across eight campuses in Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

“The establishment of this new technological university is of critical importance to the region’s future prosperity,” said Dr Orla Flynn, Paul Hannigan and Dr Brendan McCormack – the presidents of the alliance institutions – in a statement.

“[It will offer] academic depth to attract, educate, nurture and retain talent in the west, north-west and cross-border region.”

Chair of the alliance steering group, Martin Cronin, added that a strong technological university would “enhance the capacity of the region to prosper in an evermore technology-intensive world”.

‘Step-change institutions’

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, confirmed on Friday (21 May) that he received an application from the alliance group.

He described it as an “important day” for Ireland’s west and north-west, and for higher education in general.

“Such a technological university would have the potential to further drive the development of higher education and regional growth in the west and north-west with strong cross-border links,” he added.

The minister will now appoint an advisory panel to help consider the application. If the application is granted, the three institutes of technology could potentially be dissolved and a new technological university established in early 2022. This would allow students graduating in the 2021-2022 academic year to do so with a university qualification.

“TUs are step-change institutions in the higher education landscape,” Harris added. “They are embedded in their regions with strong links to local enterprise, business and community stakeholders.”

This if the fifth application for technological university designation in Ireland since the criteria were set out in 2018.

Ireland’s first technological university was announced in 2018 and launched the following year, with Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown becoming TU Dublin.

The second, Munster Technology University, was inaugurated at the beginning of 2021, bringing together Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee.

Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology were given the green light earlier this month to establish a technological university in the midlands, while an application has also been submitted by Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow.

Sarah Harford is sub-editor of Silicon Republic

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