Tuesday, 22 October 2019
Department of Education and Skills
233. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received an application from Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology to come together to form a new technological university for the region pursuant to the Technological University Act 2018; when a decision will be made thereon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43619/19]
Under the provisions of the Technological Universities Act 2018 two or more applicant institutes may jointly apply to the Minister for Education and Skills for an order establishing a technological university (TU). In order to make such an application the applicant institutes must meet the relevant eligibility criteria stipulated in Section 28 of the 2018 Act.
Last week Athlone IT and Limerick IT announced that they were forming a TU development consortium following meetings of their respective governing bodies.
On 17 October 2019, I announced the allocation of €14.25m in funding under the HEA 2019 call for submissions for higher education landscape restructuring, consolidation and collaborative projects. The majority of this funding, some €11.8 million, is aimed at supporting the creation and expansion of TUs, including an allocation of Euros 2m which has been made to AIT and LIT to develop their proposals to establish a TU. All such funding allocations will be disbursed by the HEA subject to requisite conditionality on a case by case project basis and will be subject to ongoing monitoring, reporting and evaluation by the Authority in line with stipulated timelines and milestones.
Moreover, as part of Budget 2020 the Government announced a new TU Transformation Fund of Euros 90m over the next three years to provide the state change in funding terms required in the development and establishment of both TU Dublin and consortia seeking to attain TU status. This level of increased funding reflects the significance accorded the role of TUs in assisting in the delivery of national strategic priorities in relation to higher education access, the provision of research-informed teaching and learning, increasing regional development and socio-economic progress through the connectedness of TUs to their regions and their collaboration, deeply embedded and fostered with business, enterprise and local communities. This trebling of current levels of TU funding arises, inter alia, from work undertaken by an independently chaired high level working group, the TU Research Network, comprising TU Dublin, the TU development consortia, the Department, HEA and THEA.
It remains a matter for TU development consortium in the first instance to lead on the progression of their plans to the point where they are ready to submit an application to the Minister for Education and Skills in accordance with the requirements of the 2018 Act. When such an application has been made by Athlone IT and Limerick IT, it will be considered in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Technological Universities Act 2018.