There has been a warm welcome to the announcement of the designation of Technological University for the West and North West, which will take in GMIT (including its campus in Castlebar ), IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT.
The announcement was welcomed by local TDs with Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon saying: "This is amazing news for Castlebar which is set to become a university town and making Mayo a university county", and Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary saying it was: "A milestone day for the region."
The three Presidents of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Sligo IT and Letterkenny IT, were advised yesterday of the approval of the application by the Connacht-Ulster Alliance.
It is expected that the designation of Technological University will commence from late quarter one or early quarter two of 2022, making Castlebar a university town and Mayo a university county.
Deputy Dillon said: "The Connacht-Ulster Alliance have done excellent work to ensure the three Institutes in the west and north-west put their best foot forward in progressing the application for a Technological University.
"Their hard work has paid off with the designation of a Technological University confirmed. This will have significant positive impact on the west and north-west region of Ireland as the counties of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal don’t have an existing university.
"From next year, the north west of our island will have its own multi-campus university and this is a massive step forward in promoting balanced regional development.
"These Technological Universities have the potential to serve as a powerhouse for regional development and improving access to higher education.
"It is a big win for rural Ireland and there are countless opportunities once the Technological University commences operations. Having raised this matter with Further and Higher Education Minister, Simon Harris TD, on countless occasions, it was great to receive news that Mayo will soon become a university county and Castlebar a university town. The next steps will be the advertisement for a Governing Authority and I expect this process to commence in the near future."
Deputy Calleary said: "This is a great day for the region and for the colleges coming together to form this Technological University, namely GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT.
"The announcement will provide for the establishment of a multi-campus university in the region in early 2022. It will increase higher education access, drive enhanced regional development and increase opportunities for students, staff, business and enterprise, and local communities in the North West.
"The development of Technological Universities is a core objective of the Government as is regional development – the establishment of this University presence in the North West will greatly assist efforts to further develop our region and has potential to be a transformational event for people across Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal.
"I want to congratulate everybody connected with the new university and wish it and them well for the future and assure all involved of my commitment to ensuring that each campus is adequately funded with capital investment in the years ahead."