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Technological Universities to be created in higher education shake-up

The details of the re-organisation of the country’s higher education sector were announced by Minister Ruairí Quinn this morning.

Minsiter for Education Ruairí Quinn
Minsiter for Education Ruairí Quinn
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S HIGHER EDUCATION sector is to undergo a major shake-up under new plans announced by the Education Minister today.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD said the major re-organisation includes provision for the creation of new Technological Universities.

This announcement follows recommendations made by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to Minister Quinn. The HEA’s report called for consolidation of the Institute of Technology (IT) sector; the creation of a small number of technological universities; the formation of regional clusters between universities and stronger ITs; implementation of recommendations to rationalise teacher education; as well as increased sustainability and capacity in the higher education system.

Minister Quinn said that “a new relationship between the state and the 39 publicly funded higher education institutes will be implemented”, which will allow the system “to respond in a more coherent way to national priorities set down by the government and provide graduates with the skills and qualifications that are essential for Ireland’s social and economic well-being”.

A new performance framework will be put in place to increase the transparency and accountability of institutions for delivery of agreed performance outcomes. Integral to this will be a process of strategic dialogue between the HEA and each higher education institution.

The Minister said he will be asking the HEA to report to him on an annual basis on the collective performance of the higher education system.

A legislative framework will be brought forward to enable the implementation of a set of high level system indicators.

Minister Quinn said this new focus on system and institutional performance “will bring the funding and governance of Irish higher education into line with best practice internationally”.

It marks a new era for students and other stakeholders of the system.

Technological Universities

The Minister is also instructing the HEA to begin to implement the consolidation of three groups of institutes of technology to progress towards attaining Technological University status:

  • The Dublin Institute of Technology, the Institute of Technology Tallaght and the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown
  • The Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee
  • The Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology.

Minister Quinn said that it is clear some institutes are not seeking to amalgamate with others and become Technological Universities.

However, all institutions must concentrate on the core mission of developing close links with the local and regional business community and giving the best possible quality of education to their students, both from home and abroad.

In addition, the Minister is asking the HEA to establish regional clusters of institutions in the Dublin/Leinster, the South/South East and West/Mid/West regions.

The seven universities and 14 ITs will be grouped as follows:

  • South/South East – University College Cork, Cork IT, IT Tralee, Waterford IT and IT Carlow
  • West/Mid/North West – University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick IT, Galway-Mayo IT, IT Sligo, Letterkenny IT and NUI Galway (St Angela’s and Shannon College incorporated into NUI Galway)
  • Dublin/Leinster Pillar I – University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, National College of Art and Design, Marino Institute of Education, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
  • Dublin/Leinster Pillar II – Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Tallaght, IT Blanchardstown, Dublin City University (and incorporating linked colleges), National College of Ireland, Dundalk IT, NUI Maynooth, Athlone IT and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Heads of institutions in these clusters will now develop regional plans to bring them in line with this change. The plans will eliminate unnecessary duplication of provision and establishing pathways of transfer and progression for students in the region, said the Minister.

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