A major funding boost towards the continuing provision of education excellence within Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) and its desired progression towards the achievement of Technological University (TU ) status has been announced.
AIT, in partnership with Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT ), with which it has formed a consortium to attain TU status, were awarded €5 million from the Higher Education Innovation and Transformation Fund to help actualise the dual ambition of both third level institutions.
The news was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, as part of a multi-million euro investment into the higher education landscape.
AIT President Professor, Ciarán Ó Catháin, noted the importance of funding at this time as the quest to achieve TU status progresses.
“This is welcome news and demonstrates confidence in our forthcoming application for TU designation. It is an important juncture in our journey as we prepare to create a new entity capable of sustaining social, economic and industrial growth across the region.
“Achieving TU status will enable us to connect knowledge creation with industry partnerships to grow and support collaboration, ultimately helping attract investment through a strong talent pipeline of graduates,” Professor Ó Catháin asserted.
The development of technological universities represents a radical re-structuring of the Irish higher education landscape.
As anchor institutions in their respective regions, technological universities will drive and support social, cultural and economic development, as well as deliver an enhanced student experience and range of options to learners.
A significant body of work has been undertaken on the TU project since the formation of the AIT–LIT Consortium in October of last year.
The consortium has engaged in an extensive stakeholder consultation process, with partners drawn from academic, industry and public life helping to shape the direction of the new TU.
The AIT–LIT Consortium also recently announced that it was working with international partners to develop a new European university capable of transcending languages, borders, and disciplines.
The forward-thinking higher education network, supported by the EU Commission, will enable significant student and staff mobility while facilitating joint research and undergraduate programmes
Naughten welcomes funding
Meanwhile, local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has welcomed the Government funding allocation towards the proposed development of a new Technological University in Athlone.
“The new Shannonside based Technological University will be based on two campuses in Athlone and Limerick and will be a huge boost towards attracting new industrial investment throughout our region.
“The decision by Athlone IT and Limerick IT to make a joint application for TU designation in the coming weeks is now being supported by Government through a €5m transformation fund investment to develop the use of technology and get both the Athlone and Limerick sites ready for university status.
“Based on the current timelines, the new Shannonside based Technological University will be the second such university in the country and the fast-tracking of this application is down to the commitment of the staff and management teams in both Athlone and Limerick,” Deputy Naughten stated.