I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 to 222, inclusive, together.
To date, I have not received an application under the Technological Universities Act 2018 from the TUSEI development consortium. However, I am informed the consortium intends to submit an application by 28 April 2021 and that the application will seek designation for a new TU to serve the entirety of the South East region and those hinterland areas where students are, and may in the future be, drawn from.
The structure of the first governing body of any new TU upon its establishment is prescribed by Section 55 of the 2018 Act. This would follow a Ministerial decision under the Act to designate applicant institutes unified TU status.
The plans and work stream activities undertaken by applicant institutes in their preparations for making an application for TU designation under the 2018 Act are matters for those institutes.
Neither I nor my Department has any role in the naming of a TU, or in relation to the other administrative issues referenced by the Deputy. These are matters for the TU development consortium and the TU upon establishment, as appropriate.
I would, however, underscore that TUs are multi-campus by their very nature and each campus should be considered equal in stature. A TU is a merging of partner applicant institutes into a unified Higher Education Institution of greater critical mass and reach with a commonly held strategic vision and mission. TUs, including a TU in the South East, can only come into being in the first place and truly function and progress thereafter, if they are a committed coming together of parties complementing and supplementing each other rather than seeking to operate on some form of satellite arrangement.
As the Deputy is aware, a TU for the South East is a significant priority for the Government because of the considerable opportunities it will bring to Waterford and the entire South East, such as the ability to increase FDI, capital investment, research funding and international recognition, and to be a catalyst for innovation and regional development. Students, staff, enterprise and the wider community will for the first time be able to avail of the opportunity provided by a university within their own region and it will also provide an attractive additional option for students from surrounding counties which can only be good for balanced regional development and the vibrancy of the region.