Written answers

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Technological Universities

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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14. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the application for a technological university for the south-east; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35501/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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On 30 April 2021, I received an application under section 29 of the Technological Universities Act 2018 from the Institute of Technology Carlow and Waterford Institute of Technology. The application is seeking an order under section 36 of the Act for the applicant institutes to be dissolved and the establishment of a technological university (TU). On 25 May 2021 in accordance with my obligations as Minister under section 31(3) of the Act, I appointed an advisory panel of four persons to assess the application.

This experienced and expert international panel, whom I met late last month as a matter of courtesy, is the same panel that assessed the application for TU designation made by the Athlone and Limerick Institutes of Technology in late 2020. In meeting with the panel my officials also took the opportunity to emphasise the continuing Government and Department support and commitment to the creation and development of TUs in Ireland in line with the 2019 TURN report. I pointed out that Government has allocated significant Exchequer funding for TU progression under the Transformation Fund. This support reflects the priority regional objectives of higher education access, research expansion, skills creation and retention and regional development including for the South-East region.

Department officials understand that the panel commenced its virtual assessment interactions with the applicant institutes on Monday this week 5 July 2021.

I await the furnishing of the panel’s report, the views of the Higher Education Authority on it, and any other information the Authority considers relevant in accordance with the timeframes prescribed under the 2018 Act before making my proposed decision on the application.

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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16. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if there was a compliant appointment process for the appointment of a person (details supplied) to a position. [36550/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The appointment of the TUSEI consortium’s Programme Executive Director was made by the TUSEI consortium comprising IT Carlow and Wateford IT in the context of accelerating their proposals to submit an application seeking TU designation under the prescribed legislative process set out in the Technological Universities Act 2018.

Following engagement between the TUSEI consortium and the Department on both the importance and urgency of appointing senior executive leadership to the consortium, the consoritum undertook the filling of the role of programme executive director. This urgency reflected the essential contribution to the preparation of an application for TU designation of such a role, and the priority that the Minister and Government afforded to the establishment of a TU for the South East in light of broader national and regional strategic objectives.

The Department was advised of the proposed appointment and agreed that it would meet the urgent requirements which the Department and institution Presidents had identified for independent senior executive leadership to accelerate the delivery of the TUSEI project, that up to that point had been ongoing for some 9 years.

The responsibility for the appointment process and agreeing the specific contractual arrangements were matters for the TUSEI consortium. The Department did recognise that urgency and the specific requirements of the role were relevant in finalising this temporary, project-specific appointment.

As Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, I welcomed the appointment of Mr. Tom Boland as the TUSEI consortium programme executive director on 28 July 2020 in the context of the importance Government attaches to the establishment of a TU in the South East. The successful submission of a joint application for TU status by the Governing Bodies of the two institutions in April underscores the importance of the work undertaken.


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