AIT technological university status in view as vision in sight

RONAN FAGAN

The aspirational quest to attain technological university status at Athlone Institute of Technology advanced this week with the allocation of additional Government funding aimed at facilitating the ultimate goal of the third level educational establishment.

One of four institutes of technology to have been designated funding under the higher education landscape (2018 ) restructuring funding call administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA ), Athlone Institute of Technology was awarded €250,000 which will enable the college to grow its postgraduate research capacity and provide further upskilling opportunities to staff in line with the criteria noted in the Technological Universities Act 2018.

With the vision of achieving technological university firmly in his view, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin welcomed the news which was announced by Minister of State for Higher Education, Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

“Within Athlone Institute of Technology, we are fully committed to fulfilling our ambition of achieving technological university status. As the sole higher education institute in the region, the critical relationship between the ambition of our third level college to become a technological university and the success of the industry in our region is at the forefront of our priorities in order to maintain, develop and evolve contemporary and relevant educational, training and research provision.

“This welcome funding will help us continue our efforts to upskill our talented workforce and supply industry with a pipeline of technically minded, work ready graduates. We are an extremely ambitious institute with aspirations to become a transformational educational provider in the new higher education landscape, as well as furthering our status as a leader in applied education, industry focused research and innovation output, all of which is regionally impactful,” Professor Ó Catháin remarked.

With regard to the funding allocated specifically to Athlone Institute of Technology, the Minister acknowledged that the €250,000 would enhance the technical skills of the staff force at the ever expanding multi-purpose third level facility.

“Capacity building of both research capacity and staff qualifications will enable Athlone Institute of Technology and similar educational facilities to advance regional collaborative approaches, including in terms of technological university development. The emphasis is to increase the number of staff with cutting edge technical and research based skills and on institutional research linking back into teaching excellence and the formation of more work ready graduates with the skills required regionally and nationally in strategic industries,” the Minister noted/

The final allocation of €800,000 across four institutions will fund three unique projects which have linkages to technological university development, but also strengthen collaborative regional clustering and co-operation between higher education and further education and training institutions, including on a cross-border basis and multi-campus integration.

This follows the Minister’s announcement in September of €11.2 million in funding allocation of which €9.2million relates to the ongoing development of technological universities.

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