The establishment of technological universities (TUs), including a TU in the South East, is an important part of the Government's higher education policy.
Under the statutory framework detailed in the Technological Universities Act 2018, it is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant Institutes of Technology participating in a TU development consortium to progress their plans to seek TU designation.
In this context, Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Carlow, which form the Technological University for South East Ireland (TUSEI) consortium, continue to work towards submission of an application for TU designation under the 2018 Act.
In addition to the enactment of the 2018 Act, Government have put in place a number of very important supports enabling the establishment of TUs.
The TU Research Network (TURN) established by my Department completed a report which was launched last month by the Minister of State with responsiblity for Higher Education entitled ‘Technological Universities: Connectedness & Collaboration enabled by Connectivity’ and which details the case and requirements for a state change in higher education reform whereby TUs will assist in the delivery of national strategic objectives for regional socio-economic development, higher education access, research and skills progression.
The report makes recommendations for the strategic development of TUs in a structured system-wide approach and identifies the need for investment in integrated multi-campus digital infrastructure, research capacity building and realignment of the policy framework and funding for TUs.
In response Government announced in Budget 2020 the provision of €90 million over the next three years under a new TU Transformation Fund to support consortia such as TUSEI to achieve TU designation and the further advancement of established TUs. This is additional to the €31 million in Exchequer funding invested in TU development to date, of which the TUSEI project has received €3.72 million.
In light of these measures which underpin the establishment of TUs, it is essential that all TU development consortia, including TUSEI, accelerate and intensify their work to achieve designation and in so doing demonstrate a strongly integrated and cohesive approach to the delivery of TUs for their regions.