Technological universities a step closer following passage of Bill

Ten of the State’s 14 Institutes of Technology are bidding to secure new ‘university’ status

Mary Mitchell O’Connor: “The creation of technological universities provides the opportunity to drive regional development, and provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor: “The creation of technological universities provides the opportunity to drive regional development, and provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community”

 

The creation of new technological universities has moved a step forward after legislation paving the way for the move was passed by the Dáil. The Technological Universities Bill provides for the merger of existing Institutes of Technology and the creation of a new category of university.

Ten of the State’s 14 Institutes of Technology form part of four separate groups in Dublin, Munster, Connacht-Ulster and the southeast who are bidding to become technological universities.

Policy-makers say technological universities will be in a stronger position to attract research funding and international students, as well delivering a bigger impact locally and nationally.

The Dublin consortium is widely considered to be the front-runner, and is likely to become a technological university towards the end of this year. This will involve the merger of Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght.

Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor secured the passage of the Technological Universities Bill through the Dáil on Tuesday night. The Bill is scheduled for the next stage of the legislative process in the Seanad early next week.

Strengths

Ms Mitchell O’Connor said the legislation would underpin the development of a new type of higher education institution, building on the strengths and mission of Institutes of Technology to develop “world class technological universities”.

“The creation of technological universities provides the opportunity to drive regional development, and provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community,” she said. “These institutions will have significant impact and influence regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Concerns among staff at Institutes of Technology over the implications of mergers were a key obstacle to progress on the issue over the past year or so.

Fianna Fáil’s education spokesman Thomas Byrne said he was happy that amendments had been secured which ensured that no existing Institutes of Technology would have to merge as a pre-condition of seeking technological university status.

Course provision

“We were very keen to ensure that current levels of course provision be protected in all of the regions and campuses of a technological university. The Bill that the Dáil has now passed has provides for this,” he said.

The Higher Education Authority’s chief executive Dr Graham Love also welcomed the move. He said the legislation was “vitally important in the development of the higher education landscape”.