The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D. today convened an information summit of all the Presidents and Governing Body Chairpersons of institutes of technology involved in consortia working towards technological university designation.
The purpose of the event, held in the headquarters of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), was to brief the Presidents and Chairpersons on the practical implications of the new Technological Universities Act 2018 for the technological university development process. The Minister piloted the Act to completion in the Houses of the Oireachtas on 8 March 2018 with the Act being signed into law by President Higgins on 19 March 2018.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “I am delighted that we have succeeded after a considerable period to put the Technological Universities Act in place. This provides the legislative framework upon which TU development consortia can now progress their applications when readied. Technological universities will be a critical step-change in the Irish higher education landscape and will significantly strengthen the sector’s impact at regional, national and international levels.”
The meeting was attended by officials from the HEA, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of the Taoiseach and the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQI). At the meeting the legislative provisions and practical processes involved in the making of an application to the Minister for Education and Skills for two or more institutes of technology who wish, and are in a position to, apply for technological university designation, were set out. The consortia representatives engaged fully in the subsequent question and answer session on procedural matters relating to the application process, eligibility criteria, panel assessment etc.
Senior representatives of the institutes involved in all four of the current consortia attended the meeting and confirmed the intent to progress applications. The consortia are at different levels of progression with the first application on behalf of the TU4Dublin consortium – comprising Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght – expected to be submitted by the end of April 2018 and further applications anticipated by the end of the year.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated “The attendance of such senior representatives and in such numbers is a clear signal to me of the intent of all the consortia to progress as speedily as possible with their plans to attain TU status. The legislative process is in place, the Exchequer is providing significant developmental funding and a rigorous assessment process involving an international expert advisory panel is being established by the HEA to ensure that technological universities become a reality very soon. I have also put in place a specialist unit in the Department to assist consortia in the TU development process. All practical assistance is being, and will continue to be, provided to bring this key piece of higher education restructuring to fruition.”