Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has announced the allocation of €6.3 million towards the development of bodies seeking to progress to the level of technological universities.
O’Connor said that the funding will contribute to projects which “will build national capacity, improve teaching and learning, the student experience, build skills supply and further strengthen the interface between higher education and industry that has been so important to Ireland’s economic recovery”.
Four bodies are currently in the process of becoming designated technological universities. These bodies are Technological University for Dublin (TU4 Dublin), Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA), Munster Technological University (MTU), and Technological University for the South-East (TUSE).
The process involves restructuring of the current institutions. Technological universities will emphasise social and economic development of their regions through provision of programmes at levels six to eight on the National Qualifications Framework and industry-focused research.
€2.26 million will be allocated to TU4 Dublin and €1.2 million will be assigned to CUA, while the remainder will be shared among Dublin City University (DCU) and National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) along with technological universities in Munster and the South-East.
TU4 Dublin is the proposed amalgamation of Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT) and Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB). The headquarters of the new university is proposed to be located at Grangegorman Campus in Dublin. TU4’s objective is to combine the three institutions “ideas and resources to create an incomparable institution of higher learning for the Greater Dublin Region, offering wide-ranging opportunities to learners and collaborating with civic, academic and industry partners”.
DIT department heads recently expressed dissatisfaction with the amalgamation process. A letter issued to the chairman of DIT’s governing body, Professor Tom Collins, expressed concerns that DIT representatives were being excluded from discussions with IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown.
The legislative process for a Technological Universities Bill commenced in January 2014. Further clarifications have been published concerning terms and conditions for staff, regional remits of a technological university and membership of governing bodies.
Insertions and amendments to the Technological Universities Bill 2015 will be brought to Committee Stage in the Dáil on November 15 by O’Connor.