Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Department of Education and Skills
243. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the progress on the Technological Universities Bill 2015; if he still favours the amalgamation of AIT with Dundalk; if his Department is examining alternative proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8818/17]
As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government outlines that this Government will continue to support the creation of Technological Universities.
This is in line with the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 which provides a framework for the development of the higher education sector to 2030. With regard to the institute of technology sector, the Strategy recommended significant reforms to position the sector to meet national strategic objectives. In particular, the Strategy recommended consolidation within the sector and a pathway of evolution for those consolidated institutes of technology, to allow them to demonstrate significant progress against robust performance criteria and to apply to become technological universities.
Consortiums who have applied to become Technological Universities:
As part of the implementation of the Strategy, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in 2012 published a four-stage process and criteria for applicant groups of institutes of technology wishing to apply to become technological universities. There are currently four consortia engaged with the process to become designated as TUs.
These are TU4Dublin (Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown), Technological University for the South-East (TUSE - consisting of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow), Munster Technological University (MTU - consisting of Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee) and the Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA - consisting of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo and Letterkenny Institute of Technology).
Neither, Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) nor Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) have made an application, either as part of one of the existing consortiums or as a joint consortium, to commence the process towards designation as a Technological University.
Position of Technological Universities Bill:
In relation to the legislation, the third Government Legislative Programme of this Partnership Government was published on 17 January 2017, and the Technological Universities Bill is listed on the Dáil Order Paper and is awaiting Committee Stage.
I recognise that there were a significant number of matters raised previously in respect of the Bill at both Committee and Report Stage. Accordingly, I have commenced a process of consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders, including Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT), in relation to both the matters raised during the legislative process and the commitments contained in the Programme for Government.
Following the finalisation of this consultation process I will then advance the legislation having determined a position in relation to any matters raised as part of this consultation process.