By Kernan Andrews
Legislation to facilitate the creation of technological universities is progressing through the Dáil, a move that has been described as "good news for the West of Ireland given the strategic alliance between GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT".
The Minister for Education, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, have secured Government approval to progress the Technological Universities Bill which is at Committee Stage in the Dáil.
Following consultation with stakeholders, including lecturers and teaching staff, a number of amendments will be made to the Bill including the terms and conditions of staff, the regional mission of Technological Universities, the composition of Government bodies and the progress for achieving technological university status.
GMIT, IT Sligo, and Letterkenny IT have applied for technological university status under the Connacht-Ulster Alliance, formed in 2012. The Alliance has committed the institutions to work together across a range of areas including research and innovation, course provision and functional services.
The progress has been welcomed by Fine Gael Galway West TD and Minister for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Kyne, who described it as "good news for the West of Ireland".
“With the conclusion of stakeholder consultation and work now underway on the drafting of amendments and additions to the Bill," he said, "the creation of a new Technological University for the West and North West is back on course.
Dep Kyne said that Technological University status will "strengthen the ability of the institutes" in providing innovative courses and programmes, including apprenticeships, and allow them "to work together on research and innovation and help drive the development of our region”.