Athlone IT sets out goal to become a technological university

4 Sep 2014

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) will become a technological university, according to a new strategic plan published today.

According to the new vision statement for the institute, AIT “will be a technological university distinguished by outstanding learner experience, international focus, distinctive regional contribution and high quality impact of its staff, teaching, applied research and innovation.”

Entitled Global Focus – Regional Impact, the plan sets out a series of seven pillars for the future growth and development of the institute through 2018.

International expert on higher education, Prof Simon Marginson of the Institute of Education in London, launched the plan.

Amongst the key strategic goals outlined in the plan are for AIT to grow its student population by 15pc to 6,000. That learner cohort is going to be more diverse, comprised of more post-grads and more lifelong learners. The plan points to reform of curricula and increased retention rates of 78pc.

An ambitious goal

A target of €6m per annum from non-exchequer sources is identified. Amongst the mechanisms for generating this will be the provision of international campus management services and the development of a high-performance sport centre of excellence.

“Becoming a technological university will enable us to better serve the needs of our students by providing them with an applied and internationally focused education,” AIT president Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin said.

“It will enable us to better meet the needs of employers for highly qualified and work-ready graduates.

“It will enable us to better meet the needs of entrepreneurs and industry for a research and innovation partner. And, it will enable us to better serve the many and various community groups that are the backbone of this midlands region.

 “Becoming a technological university will amplify the best aspects of what we do; it will enhance our reputation, and provide a platform for future growth,” Ó Catháin added.

Acknowledging that achieving technological university status is “an ambitious goal,” Ó Catháin said, “When you examine the criteria for TU status published by the government, it quickly becomes apparent that AIT is one of the leaders in terms of reaching those metrics.

“We are to the forefront in terms of the percentage of staff with PhDs, research activity, the diverse nature of our student population, and so on. That excellence in performance spurs us on to even greater goals.”

Athlone image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years