I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 229 together.
The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, otherwise known as the Hunt report, lays out a clear possible development pathway for amalgamated institutes of technology, which meet specified performance criteria, to seek re-designation as technological universities. A small number of new technological universities, with their own legislative framework and a distinct mission that is faithful to the ethos of the technological sector, working with existing universities, institutes of technology and other education providers, can enrich the diversity and quality of the Irish higher education landscape.
I have asked the Higher Education Authority for its formal advice on performance criteria to be used in an independent assessment process for any future applications for designation as technological universities. A consultation process on draft criteria is being undertaken by the Higher Education Authority and will be completed early next month. It is understood that the Higher Education Authority hopes to sign off its formal advice to my Department at its November meeting of the Authority. I will expedite consideration of the advice with a view to publishing the criteria before the end of December.
All applications will be considered under an independent assessment process. Once a process is in place it will be open to institutes of technology to come together to make applications for consideration for re-designation, including those in the south east.