Thursday, 8 July 2021
Department of Education and Skills
53. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the progress report of the Technical University of the South-East; when the report is expected to be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36694/21]
77. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the proposed technical university of the south east; the outcome of the review of the project by an international panel and proposed finances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36841/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 77 together.
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.
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 (HEA) 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.
In relation to finances, since 2013 the TUSEI consortium has received €8.8 million to advance its proposals for TU designation. This includes an allocation of €5.1 million in October 2020 under the Transformation Fund. The HEA, which administers the fund on behalf of the Department, is currently in discussions with TUs and TU development consortia on 2022 allocations.
I am committed to capital investment in the proposed technological university for the South East. Officials from the Department and the HEA are in ongoing engagement with both Institutes in relation to campus development plans across all proposed TU locations, including Wexford. It is planned that over the lifetime of the National Development Plan substantial investment will be required across various locations to address under investment in facilities. This investment includes the vision of a larger campus footprint in the South East, including in Waterford, and the provision of fit for purpose spaces to address skills and demographic demand issues.