Blow for AIT as merger requirement retained in Bill

Athlone Institute of Technology’s aims to achieve university status received a crushing blow this week.

On Monday, Minister for Education Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, announced amendments to the Technological Universities Bill, which do not include the possibility of an institute of technology gaining university status without merging with another educational institution. It is now intended that the revised Bill will be re-introduced at Committee stage early in the next Dáil session.

Despite the news, president of AIT, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, has welcomed the developments as a positive move forward.

“AIT welcome this step forward in the process by the Minister for Education and Skills and the advancement of the Technological Universities Bill,” he said. “This signifies a very important step forward for the higher education landscape in Ireland and is a move which is much needed in order for institutes of technology and higher education institutes to remain competitive given the global mobility of education for students and academics.”

Professor Ó Catháin has reiterated AIT’s desire to become a Technological University.

“For AIT, we have always stated our ambition to become a Technological University,” he said. “Since this process was set out, AIT has met all of the metrics and has been at the forefront of the Institute of Technology sector in terms of percentages of staff with PhDs, research activity, and the diverse nature of our student population. This excellent performance, including our ability to award PhDs in four areas, strengthened our justification to have a Technological University status.

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“For AIT to become a Technological University is significantly important to the Midlands region in order to continue to provide a strong pipeline of graduates to feed our region and to continue to attract FDIs [Foreign Direct Investment] into the region. We are delighted with the proposed legislation and look forward to reviewing it in detail once the amended Bill has been published, and indeed we look forward to continuing to drive the strategic vision of our institute and that strategic vision is to become a Technological University.’’

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