Minister Harris announces Technological University for the West and North West –

From Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science 
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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has today announced a new Technological University for the North West.
This follows an application from Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny institutes of technology. This is the fourth technological university (TU) to be created since 2019 and represents a milestone in higher education provision for the West and North West.
Minister Harris said:
“This is a fantastic day for higher education in the West and North West region, providing for the establishment early next year of a multi-campus university presence across the region, encompassing eight locations in Castlebar, Galway City, Killybegs, Letterfrack, Letterkenny, Mountbellew and Sligo.
“This new technological university will increase higher education access, drive enhanced regional development and increase opportunities for students, staff, business and enterprise, and local communities.
“The new TU – our fourth since 2019 and second this year – will now take its rightful place in the higher education landscape in a very important strategic part of the country bordering as it will both the Atlantic and Northern Ireland.
“The new higher education institution of increased scale and reach will benefit the students and communities right across Connacht and Ulster. I very much look forward to this new TU bringing those benefits to people in the region from its most westerly point to its most northerly and all points between including in Counties Cavan, Leitrim, Monaghan and Roscommon.
“Its establishment will allow people in the furthest flung corner of the island through digital connectivity to obtain a university degree in their home places. I am delighted to see this milestone being reached and I want to congratulate all involved.”
The final piece in the national TU jigsaw is a university for the South East and I will be making my decision on the TUSEI consortium application in the next few days. Overall, the entire Irish higher education landscape has shifted significantly and is reaching inwards regionally, outwards internationally and upwards in terms of ambition to serve students, staff, communities and stakeholders for decades to come”.
The process to designate a new TU is enshrined in the Technological Universities Act 2018. The next steps in the legislative process require the minister to bring forward a draft order establishing the appointed day on which the new technological university will be legally established and the three existing institutes consequentially dissolved for approval by the Houses of the Oireachtas. Students graduating in the 2021-2022 academic year will do so with university qualifications.
Minister Harris added:
“I would like to warmly congratulate and sincerely thank the very many people from the three Institutions including their management, governing bodies, staff, students and the wider regional and community stakeholders who have enabled today’s announcement and who can now look forward to an exciting future for this new university and the regional hinterlands it will serve.”
Minister of State for Further Education and Skills Niall Collins TD said:
“This is a transformational event for people across Donegal, Galway, Mayo and Sligo. We are well aware of the many faceted benefits of TUs and we are seeing how they can transform regions elsewhere.
“I want to congratulate everybody connected with the new university and wish it and them well for the future”.
The development and progression of technological universities is an established policy objective of Government in the context of higher education landscape restructuring. It has its genesis in recommendations contained in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 published in 2011.
Since the publication of the National Strategy a number of consortia of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) have with Exchequer co-funding support been progressing proposals to become TUs. The process to do so is prescribed in the Technological Universities Act 2018 which then Minister of State for Higher Education Mitchell O’Connor brought to enactment March 2018.
Under the statutory framework provided in the 2018 Act, two or more IoTs may jointly seek TU designation through a prescribed legislative process. Section 29 of the 2018 Act provides for the application jointly by two or more applicant institutes to the Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science for an order seeking designation as a TU subject to their jointly meeting specified eligibility criteria. Section 38 of the 2018 Act provides that an applicant institute and an established technological university may apply to the Minister for an order.
In October 2019 the TU Research Network (TURN) high level advisory group, comprising the president of TU Dublin and all presidents of HEIs then seeking TU status and chaired by an independent UK higher education transformation expert Professor Phil Gummett, produced their seminal report ‘Technological Universities: Connectedness & Collaboration enabled by Connectivity ’.
The report details the case for and requirements necessary for a state change in higher education reform in Ireland whereby TUs will assist in the delivery of national strategic objectives for regional socio-economic development, higher education access, research and skills progression.

On foot of the TURN report Government announced in Budget 2020 the provision of €90 million over the next three years under a TU Transformation Fund to support IoTs to jointly achieve TU designation and to further the advancement of established TUs. This dedicated funding is additional to the €31 million in Exchequer funding invested in TU development and progression since 2013. The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has secured a further €40 million in TU oriented funding under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The Department and the Higher Education Authority are also working to secure additional TU research funding under the European Regional Development Fund from next year. To date the CUA consortium has received almost €16 million in Exchequer funding to advance its TU proposals.
The first TU in the history of the state, TU Dublin, was established on 1 January 2019 followed by the second, Munster Technological University or MTU (formerly Cork IT and IT Tralee) on 1 January 2021 and the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest on 1 October 2021.
An application for TU designation submitted by the TUSEI consortium of Waterford IT and IT Carlow to the Minister on 30 April is currently under consideration. Both Dundalk IT and IADT Dun Laoghaire are working on trajectories to achieve TU status with the continued assistance of the Transformation Fund with technical advice and support provided by the Higher Education Authority.
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