Where we are now
The Irish government is planning for the future, preparing for significant population changes that will occur (> 1 million by 2040) and envisaging a superior national infrastructure.
Irish higher education is central to this planning. Today over 40 higher education institutions cater for 225,000 learners. The latter will rise by a further 30% by 2030. National policy envisages a smaller number of larger institutions in the future. The indications are that a small number of TUs will develop through merger/consolidation from existing IoTs in the short term, with unmerged institutes eventually assimilated into one or other of the new universities.
Currently there are three consortia working towards merger/consolidation and designation comprised of seven of the original fourteen IoTs. These are South East TU (two IoTs), Connacht Ulster Alliance (three IoTs) and Limerick/Athlone (two IoTs). Two TUs have already been approved, TU Dublin and Munster TU’.
The combined profile of the two South East Institutes of Technology is over 15,000 students and 2,000 staff, generating over 5,000 graduates annually. The South East is one of just two regions that does not have a university. This is currently a significant plus for the project.
Where we want to be
The overall goal is to build on the respective histories and distinctive strengths of the two Institutes, leveraging the ideas and resources of both, to create a unique and distinctive institution of higher learning of international repute, serving the whole of the Greater South-Eastern Region (over 1.6 mn population and 18,000 km2), offering wide-ranging opportunities to learners, and collaborating with a broad range of civic, academic and industry partners for improved socioeconomic development. The Technological University has the capacity to transform the fabric of the region and the nation.
Potential benefits include:
- Greater academic value in terms of broader, deeper and more diverse programmes of study, research and modes of delivery; and greater faculty development opportunities.
- Greater faculty and student diversity (expertise and demographic make-up) empowering a greatly enriched learning environment.
- Enhanced reach empowered by the multi-campus configuration, the leveraging of combined resources and enhanced image / branding of the new university.
- Stronger competitiveness resulting from new and expanded programmes; stronger student and faculty profile; greater administrative quality and depth; greater national and international footprint; new legislative functions; a larger student body facilitating greater economic stability.
- Enhanced reengagement with external regional, national and international constituencies across all university activities generating substantive new developmental opportunities.
How we get there
- Achievement of the goal will require strong leadership; cultural awareness; short and long-term informed strategic planning and risk management; collaborative and decisive thinking / actions.
- The immediate objective is creation of a new fully integrated entity, with physical campuses in Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Wexford, creating a different and better whole that will broaden and deepen the academic, research and engagement activities across the new unified institution, while ensuring a strengthened platform on which to build an internationally recognised and nationally relevant Irish Technological University.
- The South East project must now submit a joint application to the Minister as a matter of priority that details how it meets relevant eligibility criteria and demonstrating that the necessary plans and arrangements are in place for managing the merger and transition to a TU. An Advisory Panel appointed by the Minister will assess this.