New technological university for the Midlands is named

Third level institution is to be established from merger of Limerick IT and Athlone IT

The name of the country’s next technological university in the Midlands has been revealed.

Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest will be formed from the merger of existing institutes of technology in Athlone and Limerick.

It is due to be legally established later this year and will cater to a student population of more than 14,000 across campuses in Athlone, Limerick, Clonmel, Ennis and Thurles.

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

It 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”.

Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) president Prof Vincent Cunnane said the name was another major step in the journey towards the opening of Ireland's newest technological university.

“ The name represents a new beginning for our staff, our students, our communities, for the locations of our campuses and for the reinvention and reimagination of our region,” he said.

“The legislation underpinning the technological university clearly sets out our remit and the role of our stakeholders in our future direction. To root the name of the institution in these stakeholders’ views signifies the intent of this technological university right at the very start of its existence.”

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) president Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin said the name signified an important step to delivering a technological university for the region.

He said the “passion, ambition and vision” for the project among staff, students and the wider community has been a driving force and “their voices have been instrumental in helping shape the new university.”

Earlier this month Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris formally granted technological university status to AIT and LIT.

The next step in the legislative process requires the Minister to bring forward a draft order establishing the appointed day on which the new technological university will be legally established.

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

It is the third technological university to be created since 2019 following the establishment of Dublin Technological University and Munster Technological University.

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.

They include plans to establish a technological university in the south-east (based on the merger of Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology) and the north-west (based on the merger of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and IT Sligo).

It says these new institutions have greater critical mass and capacity to meet local skills and build international links.

These new technological universities will continue to offer a range of qualifications ranging from apprenticeships to PhDs.

There have been concerns expressed among staff unions, however, over terms and conditions for staff.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent