I thank Deputy Fitzpatrick for meeting me about this matter with other Members from Louth. I assure him that the north east will not be left behind. I would have been delighted had I received an application from the north-east institute to become a technological university. I am sure the Deputy and I share that real and palpable frustration as to why when a number of other institutes of technology came together with other institute of technologies to put together their bid, none came from DkIT. That is a frustration we jointly share. Institutions need to apply to become a technological university.
At the outset, I wish to recognise sincerely the important contribution Dundalk Institute of Technology has and continues to make to Dundalk, Louth, the north east and the Border region since its establishment. In order to achieve further progress in realising the ambitions and potential of the north east, I remain strongly committed to seeking to enable DkIT's participation within a technological university agenda.
However, as I have said, it is very important to recognise that, consistent with the autonomy of all higher education institutions in the State and the law we passed in this House, it is a matter for the institution itself to determine its strategic direction. This discretion must, of course, be exercised in light of the legislative options available.
In specific terms, under section 38 of the Technological Universities Act 2018, an institute of technology and an established technological university may jointly apply to me, as Minister, for an order transferring the functions of the institute of technology to the technological university. I understand that Dundalk Institute of Technology is pursuing such a path. From our previous meetings, the Deputy will know that I have provided specific funding through the Higher Education Authority, HEA, under the technological university transformation fund. I have also provided the expert advice of Dr. Ruaidhri Neavyn, who will work with the institute to get it where it needs to be in this regard.
I assure the Deputy of my absolute commitment and determination to support Dundalk Institute of Technology on its journey and to work with the Deputy and other Oireachtas colleagues in Louth to make this happen. As a Border region, the area has great potential. We see that already but there is an opportunity to go much further and to harness that potential. I encourage everybody in the institute of technology to work on this matter, knowing that they have our full support on this strategic direction.