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Tech institutes allowed to merge to form universities under new legislation

Minister Quinn has published the General Scheme of Technological Universities Bill.

DIT
DIT
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 12.42pm

INSTITUTES OF TECHNOLOGIES that wish to merge to form Technology Universities will be allowed to following the publication of the Heads of the Technological Universities Bill.

Speaking today about the new measures, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said that the legislation will pave the way for mergers and allow for “technology universities” to be become “new higher education institutions”.

The Hunt Report

Following recommendations made in the Hunt report, which called for the consolidation of the Institute of Technology sector and the creation of a small number of multi-campus technological universities, the minister said the publication of the Bill represents an “essential milestone in the modernisation and reform agenda for higher education institutions”.

He said:

I believe the roadmap for Institutes of Technologies is now clear on how they can attain Technological University Status.

Through mergers they can achieve the critical mass to allow them to reach the scale and level of performance required to compete on the world stage with other similar institutions.

Quinn added that for first time since 1989, when University of Limerick and DCU attained university status the “prospect of new universities is now very real”.

Merging

Three groups of institutes of technology have expressed interest in merging and applying to become a technological university.

Dublin Institute of Technology, the Institute of Technology Tallaght and the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown have expressed interest in merging, while the Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee said they may merge.

The Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology are also two institutes that may combine under the new rules.

A fourth group, the Connacht-Ulster Alliance made up of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Sligo IT and Letterkenny IT have indicated that they are deepening their existing alliance with a view to merge in the medium term.

The Students’ Unions at the DIT, IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght said they welcomed the announcement but said it is vital that creation of new technological universities “is driven by students’ needs for better learning experiences and outcomes, not cost-cutting”.

Students

Speaking on behalf of the three students’ unions, Glenn Fitzpatrick, President of DIT Students’ Union said the development will give students the opportunity to experience new world class universities while maintaining the ethos of the Institutes of Technology.

He added:

We look forward to engaging intensively with Government and the Institutes themselves to ensure that the new universities – in terms of the courses and student services they will be providing – are of the highest possible quality.

All the groups interested in merging are preparing their plans which must be a legally binding memorandum of understanding between each consortium of institutions describing their consolidation into a new single institution.

Following this, the institutes that have merged will then submit an application to become a technology university.

The minister stressed, however, that the three groups will have to meet the exacting standards as set out to become technological universities and this will be judged independently.

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