Ireland’s newest university formally established

Third-level institution established from merger of Limerick IT and Athlone IT

A new engineering building at Technological University of the Shannon’s campus in Athlone, formerly known as Athlone Institute of Technology

A new engineering building at Technological University of the Shannon’s campus in Athlone, formerly known as Athlone Institute of Technology

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The country’s newest university has been formally established from the merger of existing institutes of technology in Athlone and Limerick.

The Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest is the third technological university to be established and formally comes into being on October 1st.

It will cater to a student population of more than 14,000 across campuses in Athlone, Limerick, Clonmel, Ennis and Thurles.

Students graduating in the 2021-2022 academic year will do so with university qualifications.

The name for the institution emerged from research carried out with almost 3,500 students, staff and regional stakeholders over several months.

It university said the name – Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) – is intended to echo “tús”, the Irish for “start”, while the geography of the region is linked by the river Shannon, representing the “flow of knowledge and ideas”.

Two more technological universities are due to be established over the coming months as part of what the Government describes as a “radical shift” in the higher-education landscape.

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They include a technological university in the southeast (based on the merger of Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology) and the northwest (based on the merger of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and IT Sligo).

Positive legacy

TUS’s inaugural president Prof Vincent Cunnane said the creation of a technological university for midlands and midwest would leave a lasting positive legacy.

“Achieving TU status creates momentum that will have a far-reaching positive impact for generations to come,” he said.

“ We are incredibly proud of our dynamic student base and our skilled and ambitious staff, across each of our six campuses, whose shared values and ambition we celebrate as we look forward to an exciting ‘new beginning’.

Minister of State for further education and skills Niall Collins said the development was an important element of the “step change” being created in higher education in Ireland.

“This establishment has the potential to significantly transform higher education for the people of the midlands and the midwest and drive investment into the area,” he said.

“From today, the new technological university will start its journey to drive higher education access and inclusion, research informed teaching and learning excellence, and assist in more balanced regional development and socioeconomic progress. It is education delivered in the regions for people in and of the regions.”

He said staff and students of both institutes had the “wisdom” to see the benefits a technological university presents in terms of teaching and learning, research, engagement and qualifications.

“They threw their combined weight into this project and their unity and strength of purpose was key to today’s TU establishment,” he said.

“To achieve this feat in such a relatively short timescale demonstrated great ability and drive of all involved. They should be proud to have turned this project into the reality that we are witnessing today.”

The Government says technological universities have greater critical mass and capacity to meet local skills and build international links.

They will continue to offer a range of qualifications ranging from apprenticeships to PhDs.

There have, however, been concerns expressed among some staff over employees’ terms and conditions for staff.