Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology have been given technological university status.
Ireland’s third technological university is officially being established in the midlands.
The new university brings together Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology, which first announced plans to join forces in 2019 before submitting an application to the Government late last year.
Granting the technological university status today (5 May), Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said this marks a “hugely important day for higher education” as well as for the midlands and mid-west region.
“The higher education landscape is rapidly evolving and the people of the midlands and mid-west will be at the heart, both geographically and practically, of that evolution,” he said.
“This new technological university designate will increase higher education access, drive enhanced regional development and increase opportunities for students, staff, business and enterprise, and local communities.”
Ireland’s first technological university was announced in Dublin in 2018 and launched the following year, bringing together Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown to become TU Dublin.
The second technological university brought together Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee. Munster Technology University received technological university status in May of last year and was inaugurated at the beginning of 2021.
Harris said the latest technological university will benefit students and communities from several counties, including Westmeath, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare and Offaly.
The institution is expected to have a student population of more than 14,000 and a staff of approximately 1,200 people across six campuses in Athlone, Limerick, Clonmel, Ennis and Thurles.
Athlone IT president Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin said the creation of this “educational powerhouse” is a historic day for the midlands and the mid-west.
“This will be a transformative change in accessibility and one that we are proud to lead. As a new university, we will be bold and ambitious,” he said. “Today marks the start of an exciting future for all.”
Limerick Institute of Technology president Prof Vincent Cunnane added that the new technological university “will take its place as an economic driver for the regions in a post-pandemic Ireland”.
The latest application for TU status was submitted last week from a consortium of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow. An application from the Connacht-Ulster Alliance of GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT is also anticipated soon.