Technological university plans for Connacht-Ulster move a step closer

Members of the Connacht Ulster Alliance Steering Group. Back row (l-r):  Martin Cronin, chair of the CUA steering group; Brendan McCormack, CUA project manager; Michael Hannon, registrar of GMIT; and Gerard MacMichael, head of the GMIT School of Engineering. Front row (l-r): Vincent Cunnane, president of IT Sligo; Michael Carmody, president of GMIT; and Paul Hannigan, president of Letterkenny IT. Photo: James Connolly.

Members of the Connacht Ulster Alliance Steering Group. Back row (l-r): Martin Cronin, chair of the CUA steering group; Brendan McCormack, CUA project manager; Michael Hannon, registrar of GMIT; and Gerard MacMichael, head of the GMIT School of Engineering. Front row (l-r): Vincent Cunnane, president of IT Sligo; Michael Carmody, president of GMIT; and Paul Hannigan, president of Letterkenny IT. Photo: James Connolly.

A coalition of three institutes of technology in the west and northwest has this week taken the first formal step towards establishing a technological university for the region.

The Connacht-Ulster Alliance, comprising GMIT, Letterkenny IT, and Sligo IT, has submitted a formal expression of interest to the Higher Education Authority seeking re-designation of the three member ITs as a technological university. This is the first of four stages in a process leading to the establishment of a multi-campus technological university.

In a statement this week, the presidents of the Connacht-Ulster Alliance steering group said the university would help to stimulate economic growth in the region by enhancing higher education and making the area more attractive for enterprise.

“The technological university for the west/northwest will have a focus on building a vibrant and sustainable economic, social, and cultural multi-campus environment which will generate and retain graduate talent capable of growing the economic base in the region,” the statement read.

The presidents are Michael Carmody, GMIT president; Paul Hannigan, LYIT president; and Vincent Cunnane, president of IT Sligo.

According to the CUA, the proposed new university will stimulate economic growth across the geographically dispersed region by enhancing the provision of higher education to students, providing flexible delivery of education, and growing local enterprises and communities through collaborative research, development, and innovation activities.

The proposed technical university will foster business networks and developmental clusters, and will enhance the ability of the region to attract inward investment.

The university, with a focus on enterprise and innovation, would also have a positive impact on the attractiveness of the region as a location for new and existing companies to innovate and develop. According to the group, universities, particularly those with active links to industry, attract companies requiring highly skilled innovative workers to locate nearby.

The expression of interest submitted this week to the HEA sets out the high level vision for the technological university, and maps the achievements of the three institutes.

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