LIMERICK Institute of Technology (LIT) has confirmed that it is forming a consortium to develop a new Technological University (TU) for the Mid-West and Midlands.
The governing bodies of LIT and the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) met last week to conclude the formation of the consortium which is the key step towards starting work on the new university.
It follows the announcement by Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor that the government is to make €90 million available for the development of technological universities over the next three years.
Both institutions made a joint application for funding earlier this year to commence work on the TU consortium. An announcement on this application is expected to be made by government in the near future.
The move comes as construction continues on LIT’s Coonagh campus which is scheduled for completion by the end of the current academic year.
The work includes the full fit out of more than 5,000 square metres of previously unused space with state of the art teaching, learning and research facilities. This will provide an additional 542 places on LIT’s engineering courses with the first students expected to be on campus next September.
The work at Coonagh marks the beginning of a €150 million investment across LIT’s six campuses – Moylish and Clare Street in Limerick; Thurles and Clonmel in Tipperary; Coonagh and Ennis in Clare.
LIT President Professor Vincent Cunnane has welcomed the move towards achieving Technological University designation as “generationally significant for the Mid-West”.
Stating that the university will have “a clear regional focus with a national and international outlook,” he explained that LIT and AIT’s application will benefit staff, students and the local communities.
“Our intention is to build a new type of networked university with the River Shannon forming its spine. We will enhance our regional focus and our collaboration with partners here in the Mid-West.
“This puts us in a position to provide accessible Higher Education to a large portion of the country’s population while strengthening our commitment to our regions. This is an approach that has increasingly been taken in the formation of new universities in Europe, and we see a major benefit for our stakeholders by adopting it in Ireland.
“Collaboration is at the heart of this networked university – collaboration with our partners in Higher Education, in industry, our communities and government,” Professor Cunnane concluded.