For Oral Answer on : 30/11/2021
Question Number(s): 128 Question Reference(s): 58658/21
Department: Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science his views on third level institutions developing outreach satellite centres in provincial towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are governed by the Universities Act 1997, the Institutes of Technologies Acts 1992 to 2006 and the Technological Universities Act 2018. Within the meaning of these Acts, higher education institutions are autonomous with regard to management of their academic affairs and the location of their campuses.
For example, IT Carlow currently has a footprint in Counties Wexford and Wicklow as well as Carlow, and the former Limerick IT, now dissolved and part of the new Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest retained a campus presence in Counties Clare and Tipperary as well as Limerick.
Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan 2018 – 2027 reiterate the pivotal role of higher education in regional development. Future Jobs Ireland also strongly endorses the role of technological higher education to drive the development of regional clusters with a particular focus on innovation, technology and SMEs.
In this context the symbiotic relationship between a Technological University and its region strongly resonates with a core priority under the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 to create regionally based clusters or networks of learning and research. The TURN report of 2019 is the blueprint for TUs in the state and it emphasises the regional development role of this new type of HEI. The functions of TUs under the Technological Universities Act 2018 include the provision of programmes of education and training that reflect the needs of individuals, business, enterprise, the professions, the community, local interests and other stakeholders in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located and collaboration with business, enterprise, the professions, the community, local interests and related stakeholders in the region.
It is worth noting that all TUs are multi-campus institutions. For example, the aforementioned Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, recently established in October, encompasses six campuses throughout Ireland’s Midwest and Midlands region with more than 14,000 students enrolled in hundreds of courses across four counties. The latest TU to be designated in the West /North West, to be known as the Atlantic Technological University upon establishment, has a campus presence in Castlebar, Killybegs, Letterfrack and Mountbellew as well as Galway, Sligo and Letterkenny.