Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Higher Education announce first president of Technological University Dublin

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., today (December 2018) announced that Professor David FitzPatrick has been designated under the Technological Universities Act 2018 for appointment as the first president of Technological University Dublin.

TU Dublin will become the largest Higher Education Institution in the State with almost 28,000 students and over 3,000 staff. It will be a multi-campus university with campuses in Grangegorman, Blanchardstown and Tallaght as well as a “virtual” campus.

Professor FitzPatrick is currently the Principal, College of Engineering and Architecture and Dean of Engineering, UCD and Provost of the Beijing-Dublin International College, a joint venture between UCD and Beijing University of Technology.

Professor FitzPatrick’s term of office will take effect on 1 January 2019 when Technological University Dublin is formally established by law and Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght stand dissolved.

Minster McHugh said, “Professor FitzPatrick brings a wealth of knowledge, skill and experience to the new TU Dublin. With a background in engineering and leadership I am sure that he will drive the Government’s ambitious approach to third level education and set the benchmark for other technological universities to follow.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said, “I welcome Professor FitzPatrick’s designation for appointment as first president of TU Dublin. He is a person of huge experience and expertise in the higher education sector. As the current head of the UCD College of Engineering and Architecture he will be well placed to drive TU Dublin’s mission for technological excellence, research, knowledge transfer and regional development.”

The Minister also said, “Professor FitzPatrick’s leadership will be critical in delivering on the distinct mandate for Technological Universities reflected in their governing legislation building on an ethos currently defined by the mission and focus of the Institutes of Technology sector. I look forward to working closely with TU Dublin, the consortia currently working to apply for TU designation, other Institutes of Technology and their representative body THEA to ensure that that the technological higher education sector as a whole achieves the high level of ambition which it is setting for its future.”

In conclusion the Minister noted that, “students currently on courses in DIT, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght finishing this academic year and who graduate, will become the first graduates of a technological university in the State, which is something of a unique double milestone in their lives”.

Technological University Development

The 2011 National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 provided for substantial changes to the landscape of Irish higher education including reform of teacher education, improved institutional alignment and consolidation within the Institute of Technology sector and a pathway of evolution for consolidated institutes to become technological universities (TUs).

Technological universities will:

Support innovation, management upskilling and internationalisation of companies
Create the capacity for greater engagement with local enterprises, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises
Increase internationalisation activities – attract more international students and increase mobility opportunities for Irish students and staff
Provide a key selling point in the attraction, retention and development of Foreign Direct Investment in the regions
Facilitatelifelong learning, upskilling and reskilling
Provide greater capacity for social and community engagements – placements, work with schools, cultural and sporting activities

The Technological Universities Act 2018, underpins the establishment of technological universities and was signed into law on 19 March 2018.

There are currently four consortia of Institutes of Technology engaged with the process seeking to become designated as technological universities:

TU4Dublin, consisting of Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology, Tallaght and Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown (Application granted). This new Higher Education Institution, to be known as Technological University Dublin, will have the largest student population in Ireland at almost 28,000 students.

Munster Technological University (MTU), consisting of Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee. This TU would encompass some 14,000 students.

Technological University for South-East Ireland (TUSEI), consisting of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow. This TU would encompass some 14,500 students.

Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA), consisting of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, and Letterkenny Institute of Technology. This consortium would encompass some 16,000 students.

Each consortium is at a different stage in the process. Progress is related to the scale of each undertaking, to historical relationships, to the starting point of each group and the challenges they have faced along the way.

Since 2013 the Government has co-funded technological university development and related landscape restructuring proposals by some €20 million, some €9.28 million of which has co-funded the Technological University Dublin consortium.

First Governing Body

Minister McHugh and Minister Mitchell O’Connor also announced the members of the first governing body to be appointed with effect also from 1 January 2019. The governing body will be chaired by Professor Tom Collins who is the current joint chairperson of the three Institutes of Technology now being merged. The other members are:

Dr. Caitríona Fisher of the Health Products Regulatory Authority,
Ms. Imelda Reynolds, Partner and Chair of the Beauchamps law firm, and
Mr. Paddy Lavelle nominated by the relevant education and training boards in whose areas the campuses of the new higher education institution are situated.

Under the Technological Universities Act 2018 this core governing body must be put in place and effect the procedures to establish the full governing body of between 14 –22 members by 30 June 2019.