A new university for the West and North-West, a step closer
GMIT, LYIT & IT Sligo apply for TU designation
The West and North-West have taken a step closer in establishing a new university for the region. The Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA) of GMIT, LYIT and IT Sligo today (Friday 21st May 2021) submitted a formal application to the Minister for Further & Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, for designation as a Technological University (TU).
This is a significant day for all CUA students, staff and stakeholders, and marks the culmination of several years’ work. The proposed TU for the West and North-West will be one of the largest multi-campus universities across the island of Ireland.
The new TU will bring together almost 600 academic programmes to a current CUA student population of 20,000 students across eight campuses. In addition to undergraduate and postgraduate courses, it will offer upskilling and employee education and support enterprises, especially SMEs, through collaborative research and enabling technology transfer. It will also build economic, cultural and social prosperity across a unique geographical region which has dispersed rural population and significant urban centres.
Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “This is an important day for the West and North West and for higher education generally with the submission of a fifth application for Technological University designation.
“TUs are step-change institutions in the higher education landscape. They are embedded in their regions with strong links to local enterprise, business and community stakeholders and which provide research informed and applied teaching and learning excellence in pursuit of more balanced regional engagement and development through expanded higher education access and pathways and lifelong learning progression.
“Today, three institutions have come together to make this application and in it the case for a new TU with campuses encompassing Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. Such a TU would have the potential to further drive the development of higher education and regional growth in the West and North West with strong cross-border links.
“I will carefully consider the application and the requisite reports and views on it such as are required under the Act to be furnished to me without prejudice and in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements and timeframes ”
In a statement the CUA Presidents, Dr Orla Flynn, Mr Paul Hannigan and Dr Brendan McCormack, said: “The establishment of this new TU is of critical importance to the region’s future prosperity, offering academic depth to attract, educate, nurture and retain talent in the West, North-West and cross-border region. The three institutes have been and will continue as a merged TU to be immensely valuable to the regional economy and the new university will be a leader in the provision of apprenticeship, part-time, full-time, campus- and work-based modes of learning.”
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has welcomed the submission of an application by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Sligo Institute of Technology, to become a Technological University. Tony Neary, Ibec West Regional President said: “Business welcomes the application to establish a Technological University in the region. A Technological University would represent an opportunity for growth and balanced regional development and support the realisation of the ambitious target to grow Galway by at least 50% to 2040 and enhance its significant potential to become a city of scale. Human capital and innovation are key determinants of competitiveness and will mark out the high-performing countries of the future. By cultivating and enhancing the high-quality research capacity that currently exists in the Technological University partner institutes, including GMIT, a Technological University can underpin research, development, and innovation partnerships with enterprise, to create new market opportunities and build resilience across the enterprise base. This would significantly boost productivity, competitiveness and regional growth”.
A statement by the Students Union Presidents, Victor O’Loughlin (GMIT), Mary Hernandez (LYIT), Jason Quinn (IT Sligo), said: “GMIT Students’ Union, LYIT Students’ Union and IT Sligo Students’ Union collectively welcomes the announcement of this submission. This submission allows our members to become a part of a much larger inclusive, collaborative community which will empower them to reach their potential socially academically and professionally through their engagements with the Students’ Union. The Students’ Unions looks forward to representing one united voice across the West and North-West region and creating a larger and stronger Students’ Union.”
Chair of the CUA Steering Group Mr Martin Cronin says it is a momentous occasion: “The development of a strong Technological University in the region will enhance the capacity of the region to prosper in an ever more technology intensive world. He congratulated everyone involved for embracing this vision and working so hard to build a high-quality submission.”
Pending the decision from Minister Harris, the CUA will undertake a naming and branding process for the new TU and intends to engage with the public and various stakeholders. It is hoped the new TU will be legally established in January 2022.