University of technology plans for GMIT and BMW region institutes

GMIT is one of five institutes of technology in the Border, Midlands and West (BMW ) region currently at an advanced stage in discussions regarding the establishment of a technological university.

According to the BMW, given Government approval, a Border Midlands West technological university (BMW TU ) would create the largest higher education institution in the State with a combined catchment of 27,000 students.

A steering group comprising the presidents and senior staff of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Athlone Institute of Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, and Institute of Technology, Sligo, is directing the negotiations.

Michael Carmody, president of GMIT, said: “A BMW TU will be much more attractive to students, since it may involve joint programmes between campuses, thereby achieving a deeper level of engagement with local businesses. There is also the possibility of greater levels of specialisation within programmes, giving students a broader range of options. A key part of our current discussions is about creating a coherent framework of programme provision across the five institutions.”

Athlone Institute of Technology president Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin, said: “We are looking to create a differentiated institution, one that will be known for the excellence of its teaching and learning, and for its close collaboration with industry. Such a technological university will be much more than the sum of its parts, it will be a powerful agent of change in higher education for all the communities and stakeholders involved.”

President of IT Sligo, Professor Terri Scott stated: “The Higher Education Authority is now starting to implement the National Strategy for Higher Education which was published at the start of last year. A new model of higher education is planned for Ireland, which will include a more coherent, complementary system of higher education. This will require greater collaboration and clustering amongst institutions to bring about greater efficiencies.”

“Each higher education institution will initially become part of a cluster, the makeup of which has yet to be finalised. This clustering arrangement will mean enhanced cooperation, but each Higher Education Institution will retain its autonomy,” Professor Scott explained. “Ultimately a small number of Institutes of Technology which, when teamed together, meet required criteria in areas such as research output and student levels, will be re-designated Technological Universities.

“Our ambition to be part of a Technological University is grounded on a track record of achievement in supporting industry and the professions for the past 40 years. To build on our strengths, the time has come for us to form strategic alliances to benefit Sligo and the wider region,” she concluded.

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