Government to create Ireland’s second technological university in Munster

Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Tralee are set to merge to form the new university

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced the creation of the Munster Technology University (MTU), a merger between Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee).

The merger between the two technology institutes was announced today, following earlier concerns around the financial implications of forming a consortium.

The new technological university is to cater for 18,000 students spread across five campuses at CIT Bishopstown, IT Tralee, CIT School of Music, CIT Crawford College of Art and Design and the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “This is an important day for higher education in Ireland and for the South West. The Government has a very clear ambition to expand and consolidate higher education facilities, to boost economic development across the country and to attract research funding. Technological Universities are central to delivering on this.”

“The establishment of the Munster Technological University will stimulate a more balanced growth of population and employment across Ireland. It will make it easier to secure foreign direct investment and provide quality jobs in the region,” he added.

He continued: “This new TU in Munster will be a driver of regional development, and it will help to make higher education more accessible. Above all else it will provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community.”

This merging of higher education institutions aims to develop and expand linkages between both Cork and Kerry facilities.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said: “I am delighted that we can announce this landmark development for the South West region and for Irish higher education, in line with the Government’s strategy for higher education and regional development.”

He added: “The development of the new university from these two institutes will bring enormous benefit to the higher education landscape, to both institutions’ communities and stakeholders and to the region.”

“Both institutes have worked hard and overcome challenges to meet the conditions stipulated so that it is possible to announce this decision, and subject to the relevant Oireachtas process, proceed to award TU status,” he stated. 

The process to designate a new technological university started with the Technological Universities Act 2018, which Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor piloted through the Oireachtas to subsequent enactment on 19 March 2018.

Speaking about the new technological university, Mitchell O’Connor stated: “The technological university model provides the template to drive regional development, enhance opportunities for students, staff and business, enterprise and community stakeholders, and creates a step change in the impact and influence of these institutions regionally, nationally and internationally.”

“Munster TU will now take its place in our higher education system. It is essential that a new university is agile, forward thinking and builds on the combined strengths of its staff and students across all disciplines and all levels, promoting enhanced teaching, learning and qualifications opportunities for students, from apprenticeship level right up to post-doctoral level,” she added. 

MTU will be the second technological university created in Ireland in the last two years. The former Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) merged with IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown to become the new Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), which launched in January 2019.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, a CIT/IT Tralee spokesperson said: “The designation as a technology university will enable MTU to play a leading role in the recovery of the Munster region post COVID-19, sustaining and developing community and economy.” 

In 2018, MTU was awarded €2 million by the Department of Education to work on the development of its TU status. It was also awarded €2.3 million in 2017.

In October 2019, McHugh assured CIT that it would not be responsible for IT Tralee’s debts in the merger. This assurance came in relation to a deficit of as much as €10 million being projected for IT Tralee in the coming years. The disparity in cash flow was a point of tension throughout negotiations.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the News Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Fresh English and Philosophy student.