Midlands on course to have new university in 2021

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Midlands on course to have new university in 2021

President of AIT, Professor Ciaran Ó Catháin

A new technological university for the Midlands and Mid-West is on course for 1 September 2021, following confirmation that the AIT - LIT Consortium has formally submitted its application to Government.

The institution is expected to comprise a student population of up to 15,000 and a staff complement of approximately 1,200 people across six campuses in Athlone, Limerick (2), Clonmel, Ennis, and Thurles.  

An economic impact study commissioned by the consortium has found that the combined impact of the two institutions on the Irish economy is close to €420 million euros in economic output, while they support more than 800 jobs in addition to their own staff complement.    

The consortium – which formally commenced in October of 2019 – has targeted a date of 1 September next year for the new university to open and is today (Monday) also embarking on a broad consultation process to name the new technological university.

Academic unions in both AIT and LIT have voted overwhelmingly in favour of measures contained in the technological university project plan.

Senator Micheál Carrigy has welcomed the application to establish a new Technical University in the Midlands/ Mid-West from Athlone and Limerick Institute of Technology.

He commented, "There is a formal legislative process to take place now but this is an exciting prospect for the Midlands and can be hugely transformative. Both IT together have a student population of almost 14,000 and a staff of 1,300. €7 million euro has been allocated from the Exchequer to date towards the project with Government committed to further funding."

Commenting on the application, President of AIT Professor Ciaran Ó Catháin said: “This is a transformational development for the Midlands, and once it comes to fruition, it will provide significant social and economic benefit to communities across the region and beyond. Becoming a TU will broaden access to higher education and create opportunities in areas that have previously been underserved with respect to apprenticeships right through to PhD. I am immensely proud of the progress that have been made since the formation of the AIT – LIT Consortium a little over a year ago and of our staff, who have worked together in the spirit of common purpose to share knowledge and expertise. This has culminated in us reaching and surpassing the substantive TU metrics set out by Government and increasing our research capacity. Our commitment to our technological mission is resolute and will result in a talent pipeline of professionally and technically skilled graduates capable of propelling regional and national growth.” 

President of LIT Professor Vincent Cunnane said: “We are on a pathway to deliver a unique new technological university that will cross regions and transcend geography.  While this will be an institution of scale, it will retain the familiarity of local campuses across two significant regions. This enables us to act as a regional development powerhouse into the future, delivering education and research that will benefit students, educators, communities, business and industry in a strategic way. Our approach is based on partnership and consensus, and is indeed underpinned by consultation with staff, students and other stakeholders. The consortium has a strong set of shared values and a shared ethic that provides a firm foundation to deliver on our future strategy.”

Professor Tom Collins, AIT-LIT Consortium project facilitator, congratulated the “management, staff and students of both institutes, who in a short time and through all the challenges of the current year, have re-imagined the future of the two institutions around a compelling vision for a new technological university in the Irish Midlands and Mid-West.”