Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD has today (28 July 2020) announced the appointment of an independent person to accelerate plans for a technological university in the South East.
Mr. Tom Boland, a former Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), will be the new independent Programme Executive Director for the TUSEI consortium comprising the Carlow and Waterford Institutes of Technology.
The Minister also updated Government last week on the progress that has been made since the enactment of the Technological Universities Act in 2018 which sets the criteria for TU designation by the TUSEI consortium.
However, a step change in the pace of the project is now considered essential by the Minister and Government.
The Minister said:
“The South East is the only region in the State that does not have the benefit of a university presence. This Government recognises the urgency attached to the requirement for a technological university for the South East of Ireland and is committed to delivering on our Programme for Government commitment.
“A TU in the South East will re-energise the region and bring significant benefits in terms of increased reach, international recognition, research capacity building, FDI attraction, skills retention and creation and intensified regional development..
“On Mr. Boland’s appointment, the Minister said: “As a former and long-serving Chief Executive of the HEA, Tom Boland is a highly regarded and high reputation leader within the Irish higher education sector with huge experience and expertise in higher education. It is a priority for me as Minister on behalf of the Government and representing the interests of all in the South-East wishing to see the early establishment of a university in the region that his work with the consortium should be a success.”
The Minister concluded by saying that he planned to meet the Chairs and Presidents of the two institutes with the Programme Executive Director shortly to communicate the Government’s expectation that there would be significant progress by end of the year.
Note for Editors
The merging of Institutes of Technology is advocated in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 to create a new type of Higher Education Institution, the Technological Universities (TU), of sufficient size, capacity and critical mass to maximise individual institutional strengths and benefits and attract greater investment.
TUs provide the opportunity for a step change in higher education reform for the delivery of national strategic priorities for higher education, research and regional development such as are elaborated in Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan and Future Jobs Ireland.
In November 2019 the TU Research Network (TURN) high level working group produced its report ‘Technological Universities: Connectedness & Collaboration enabled by Connectivity
’. The report makes a series of 12 recommendations for outcomes that will provide a solid foundation for the development and progression of TUs, centring on the thematic areas of investment in integrated multi-campus digital infrastructure, research capacity building and re-alignment of the policy framework and funding for TUs.
Following on from the TURN report Government committed €90 million in a new TU Transformation Fund being designed and administered by the Higher Education Authority to establish new TUs, including for the South East, and to further develop established TUs over the next three years. Implementation of the fund will see TU oriented funding increase to over €120 million in total by 2023.
TU Dublin was established on 1 January 2019 and a Munster TU application from Institutes of Technology in Cork and Tralee was recently approved by the Minister for Education and Skills in May with a view to its becoming legally established on 1 January 2021. Three other consortia of Institutes of Technology, including the TUSEI consortium, are readying applications for TU designation for Ministerial approval in 2020.