GMIT president welcomes progress of Technological Universities Bill

GMIT president Dr Fergal Barry has welcomed the passing by the Seanad of the Technological Universities Bill, which paves the way for the Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA ) to progress towards the next stage of the application for designation as a technological university for the west/north west.

The bill aims to unite the country’s institutes of technology under four new national technological universities; among these, GMIT would merge with IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT to form a university under the Connacht-Ulster Alliance.

“GMIT and the CUA are delighted that the Technological Universities Bill has now completed all stages in both houses of the Oireachtas and will soon be signed into law,” Dr Barry said this week. “The criteria for application include specific and rigorous numeric targets in relation to staff qualifications and research activity, undergraduate and postgraduate student profiles, and the extending of delegated authority at Level 10 (doctoral level studies ). There are also less specific, but equally important, criteria in relation to governance, external linkages, and international activity.”

Welcoming the passing of the TU Bill in the Seanad, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said: “The legislation when enacted will underpin the development of a new type of higher education institution, building on the strengths and mission of institutes of technology to develop world class technological universities. The creation of technological universities provides the opportunity to drive regional development and provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community.”

Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO of the Technological Higher Education Association, added: “Our constituent institutions spread right round the country have been working diligently over recent decades to raise standards and enhance the experience for the many thousands of students who have undertaken programmes of study and research. In so doing, the institutes have offered access to higher education to many who otherwise would not have been afforded such opportunity.

“The significant personal benefits complement the societal and broader economic advantages to the country, and the confident anticipation is that this advent of technological universities will have even greater impact and one that will be felt in all corners of the country,” Dr Ryan added. “They will add to the existing diversity evident within an already strong technological sector and THEA most warmly welcomes this development.”

Dr Perry Share, CUA project manager, said: “The Government has strongly endorsed the development of technological universities in its National Development Plan Project Ireland 2040, which notes that ‘Technological Universities [will] deepen the talent pool for distinctive regional sectoral clusters and drive applied research and innovation’.

“The CUA has agreed a budget for 2018 of approximately €2.5m,” he added. “The partner institutes will target this expenditure at enhancing the partners’ capacity to meet the TU criteria, in particular through support for expanded research activities via postgraduate bursaries and support for strategic research centres, and on support for staff to enhance their qualifications.

“Working groups across the three institutes will look at the strategies, processes, and practices within the institutes to explore how the institutes can continue working together in areas such as research, governance, integration of IT services, and academic planning. This will involve more extensive consultation with internal and external stakeholders, such as students and staff, companies, representative bodies of business and community, and professional bodies.”

For further information on the CUA, see cualliance.ie

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