Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD has today (23 November 2021) announced that the name agreed by the applicant institutes for the new Technological University for the West and North West region being established next year shall be the Atlantic Technological University (Ollscoil Teicheolaíochta an Atlantaigh), and is anticipated to open its doors officially on 1 April 2022.
The name chosen by the applicant institutes of Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny Institutes of Technology follows a comprehensive survey commissioned by the Institutes from external consultants of relevant internal and external stakeholders including most notably the students and staff of the three Institutes. This name has the full support of all three governing bodies.
Minister Harris said: “I am pleased to be able to announce the name of this Ireland’s fourth technological university and that subject to the relevant legislative processes being completed the date of establishment of the Atlantic Technological University shall be 1 April 2022. This means that students of the current three Institutes who graduate in this academic year of 2021/2022 and henceforth in the West and North West will do so with university qualifications”.
Subject to the drafting of the requisite Ministerial order under the Technological Universities Act 2018 by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, its laying before and approval by resolution by each House of the Oireachtas, it is proposed that the date on which the three Institutes will be formally dissolved and the Atlantic Technological University established in their place shall be the 1 April 2022.
Welcoming the Minister’s announcement, the Institutes said: ‘The name Atlantic Technological University reflects the deep connections to the region and our ability and ambition to impact at a national and international scale. This name expresses a sense of place, culture and heritage, incorporating aspiration, scale, geography and our commitment to innovation and sustainability. It speaks to our unique perspective on an island in the Atlantic that makes waves on an international stage. The new TU’s name was chosen through extensive research and consultation with thousands of students, staff and stakeholders across industry and education.
The open public process seeking expressions of interest in the post of first president of the new TU will be launched shortly by the applicant institutes.
Notes to the Editor
An open public competition will be run by the Institutes commencing later this week to identify a suitable person to present to Minister Harris for designation to the post of first president of the new TU and their subsequent appointment by the TU’s first governing body.
The Minister’s Department last week issued a call for expressions of interest for the posts of chairperson and ordinary members of the TU’s first governing body. A detailed information booklet can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/fdc34-candidate-information-booklet-for-vacancies-as-chairperson-and-on-governing-body-of-new-tu-for-west-and-north-west/ and expressions of interest may be made by submitting a curriculum vitae and detailed cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date for the receipt of applications is 10th December 2021.
The TU Agenda
The development and progression of technological universities is an established policy objective of Government in the context of higher education landscape restructuring. It has its genesis in recommendations contained in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 published in 2011.
Since the publication of the National Strategy a number of consortia of Institutes of Technology have with Exchequer co-funding support been progressing proposals to become TUs. The process to do so is prescribed in the Technological Universities Act 2018 which then Minister of State for Higher Education Mitchell O’Connor brought to enactment March 2018.
Under the 2018 Act, two or more IoTs may jointly seek TU designation through a prescribed legislative process. Section 29 of the 2018 Act provides for the application jointly by two or more applicant institutes to the Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science for an order seeking designation as a TU subject to their jointly meeting specified eligibility criteria. Section 38 of the 2018 Act provides that an applicant institute and an established technological university may apply to the Minister for an order.
In October 2019 the TU Research Network (TURN) high level advisory group, comprising the president of TU Dublin and all presidents of HEIs then seeking TU status and chaired by an independent UK higher education transformation expert Professor Phil Gummett, produced their seminal report ‘Technological Universities: Connectedness & Collaboration enabled by Connectivity’.
The report details the case for and requirements necessary for a state change in higher education reform in Ireland whereby TUs will assist in the delivery of national strategic objectives for regional socio-economic development, higher education access, research and skills progression. The TURN report is available at
On foot of the TURN report Government announced in Budget 2020 the provision of €90 million over the next three years under a TU Transformation Fund to support Institutes of Technology to jointly achieve TU designation and to further the advancement of established TUs. This dedicated funding is additional to the €31 million in Exchequer funding invested in TU development and progression since 2013. The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has secured a further €40 million in TU oriented funding under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The Department and the Higher Education Authority are also working to secure additional TU research funding under the European Regional Development Fund from next year. To date the consortium of GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT has received almost €16 million to advance its TU proposals.
The first TU in the history of the state, TU Dublin (formerly DIT, IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght), was established on 1 January 2019 followed by the second, Munster Technological University or MTU (formerly Cork IT and IT Tralee) on 1 January 2021 and the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (formerly Athlone and Limerick ITs) on 1 October 2021. On 2 November Minister Harris announced that he is proposing to approve the application by IT Carlow and Waterford IT to establish a TU in the South East early next year, subject to finalisation of some remaining technical and operational matters and with all parties are working toward establishment by 1 May 2022. Both Dundalk IT and IADT Dun Laoghaire are also working on trajectories to achieve TU status with the continued assistance of the Transformation Fund and with technical advice and support provided by the Higher Education Authority.