A new technological university has been announced for the Midlands and the Midwest, the Minister for Further Education has announced.
Minister Simon Harris revealed that Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology would be joining together to form a new technological university.
“The higher education landscape is rapidly evolving and the people of the Midlands and Midwest will henceforth be at the heart both geographically and practically of that evolution,” he said.
“This new TU – our third since 2019 - will now take its rightful place in the higher education landscape in the country’s heartlands.”
In 2019, TU Dublin opened after a merger of three Institutes of Technology in central Dublin, and then in January 2021, IT Tralee merged with Cork IT to become Munster Technological University.
The announcement of this new university in the Midlands was welcomed by both of the presidents of the institutions, AIT President Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin describing this as a “historic day” for the region.
“Today’s designation will see AIT and LIT come together to form a new educational powerhouse, linked by the River Shannon,” he said. “Unique in its geography, the new university will border almost half of Ireland’s 26 counties, providing unprecedented levels of access to higher education.”
“This will be a transformative change in accessibility and one that we are proud to lead. As a new university, we will be bold and ambitious. We will drive future development and technological innovation across Ireland and on an international stage through cross-cutting, high-TRL [Technology readiness level] research and knowledge transfer to stakeholders in industry.”
LIT President Professor Vincent Cunnane similarly described the announcement as a “red-letter day” for the Midlands and Midwest.
“Receiving TU designation is a huge achievement – an achievement based on a strong, comparable strategic direction in both organisations over a number of years, and a real concerted effort for the last 18 months,” he said.
The institution is expected to comprise a student population of more than 14,000 and a staff of approximately 1,200 people across six campuses in Athlone, Limerick (2), Clonmel, Ennis and Thurles.
According to an economic impact study commissioned by the consortium, 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 chair of the Governing Body of AIT, Liam Rattigan, added that: “The new TU will be a powerful educational entity that will serve with dedication and distinction, future proofing higher education across the Midlands and Mid West through practical learning, applied research and strong industry engagement.”