The provision of education excellence at Athlone Institute of Technology is to be further enhanced following the formation of a consortium with Limerick Institute of Technology to develop a new technological university (TU ) for the Midlands and Mid-West regions.
The governing bodies of both institutions met last week and formally confirmed the formation of a new TU consortium. This is the key governance step opening the pathway to commence work on the new university and follows the announcement by Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, that the Government is to make funding of €90 million available for the development of technological universities over the next three years.
Both institutions made a joint application for funding earlier this year to commence work on the TU consortium with a decision now imminent in this regard.
Lauding the development, President of Athlone Institute of Technology, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, hailed the consortium formation as being “transformative for the Midlands region.”
“Athlone Institute of Technology is home to knowledge creators, innovators and leaders. It is a beacon of collaborative, cross-cutting research and an innovation partner of choice for both industry and academia, central to propelling Ireland’s knowledge economy forward.
“We are an extremely ambitious institute and are fully committed to achieving technological university status, something which is of fundamental importance to leveraging the Midlands region and ensuring it reaches its potential for the benefit of students, staff and the wider community.
“Our partnership with Limerick Institute of Technology will play a pivotal role in helping us achieve our ambitious mission and our forward thinking partnership is key to unlocking the potential of both of our institutes and regions.
“This announcement will signal a unique, disruptive and coherent TU consortium. It positions the two institutions in a unique strategic collaboration that bridges our respective regional partners, maintaining a focus on impact and engagement while at the same time strengthening capacity.
“Underpinning our mission is the formation of partnerships with industry and academia which will help develop and sustain our collaborative, cross-cutting research and further enhance our capacity to enrich civic, social and cultural engagement while providing new and essential access and pathways for all learners,” Professor Ó’Catháin enthused.
Further welcoming the announcement, Minister of State, Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, commended the endeavour of Professor Ó’Catháin as he continuously strives to enhance the level of education and innovation within Athlone Institute of Technology.
“This development is a major plus for Athlone and the relevant allocation of funding to advance this process to the next stage will be made available from the Government in the coming weeks.
“Attaining university status for Athlone Institute of Technology has been a key focus in my time as a Government member and this announcement clearly shows that Athlone is heading in the right direction with regard to Project Ireland 2040.
“This news is certain to be to the fore in all national media and will further enhance Athlone as a regional growth town which is very much suited to potential inward investment.
“The benefits of Athlone as a university town simply cannot be understated,” Deputy Moran emphasised.