Government policy as set out in the Programme for Government is to support the creation of TUs as higher education institutes (HEIs) of sufficient size, capacity and critical mass to have a significant impact at regional, national and international level. These regional HEIs will have greater links to industry and will have an enormous impact on the capacity to create and retain jobs in regions. As such, Government will prioritise those institutions which have clear ambitions and plans for the furthering of industry-relevant technological research and education.
The Government has provided the enabling legislation in the Technological Universities Act 2018 for two or more IoTs to come together to seek TU status. The Technological Universities Act 2018 which was signed into law on 19 March 2018 provides the legal framework underpinning the process for establishment by two or more IoTs as a TU subject to a decision-making process contingent on the meeting of specified eligibility criteria and including assessment by an international advisory panel. The 2018 Act also sets out the functions and governance requirements for these new HEIs. Section 29 of the 2018 Act provides for the application jointly by two or more institutes to the Minister of Education and Skills for an order seeking designation as a TU. Section 38 of the Act provides that an institution and an established TU may also apply to the Minister for such an order.
Government also continues to support those consortia of IoTs seeking to achieve TU status under the legislation in terms of significant Exchequer co-funding. Submissions from HEIs seeking funding under the 2019 call for proposals in respect of TU development and other higher education landscape restructuring projects, for which a total of €14 million in Exchequer funding is being made available, are currently being evaluated by the Higher Education Authority before the Authority makes recommendations for funding allocations to the Minister for Education and Skills.
The potential benefits of becoming a successful TU are significant in terms of increased reach, international recognition, research capacity building, FDI attraction, skills retention and creation, regional development, enhanced staff and student experience and opportunities and socio-economic progression. The merging of institutes of technology will create institutions of sufficient size, capacity and critical mass to maximise those benefits and attract greater investment.
My Department is not aware of any proposals by DkIT to pursue TU status under the 2018 legislation currently and it is understood that at this time DkIT has not either joined or formed a consortium seeking to develop TU proposals.