Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan welcomed the establishment of the new Athlone & Limerick Technological University.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD has today confirmed Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology will be dissolved and a new TU will be established. 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.
Speaking today, Senator Dolan said:
“A new university is a fantastic achievement for the West and the Midlands. The success of the AIT-LIT consortium in the international peer review process is testament to the excellence, commitment & vision of this Technological University. It shows the quality of research and academic staff, the strength of academic courses on offer and the demand from students, community and businesses in our region.
The designation of university status will transform our region and bring incredible investment into research, academia & industry. It will be a gamechanger for students and staff as well as our businesses and communities.
‘With a dedicated focus on research as well as academic excellence, this new Athlone Limerick TU will attract more European & international funding as well as linking in closely to support industry develop new product ideas. With highly skilled graduates in areas of global demand such as Medtech, Pharma, Healthcare, AI, engineering we will embed multi-national, SMEs & start-ups in the West.
‘Congratulations to the AIT-LIT consortium on this incredible achievement, it involved key project managers and close to 200 staff and in particular to Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, President of Athlone IT & Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of Limerick IT. This new university met and exceeded milestones in relation to research students, availability of part-time, industry and flexible course programmes as well as 45% of staff at doctoral level or equivalent.
‘The Athlone-Limerick university will reflect the communities and the industry of the West, Midlands & Midwest and it will be an anchor for future investment in our region.
‘Athlone Institute of Technology was already at the forefront with accolades such The Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year in 2020 and 2018 and this is the next step. For Roscommon and East Galway, our students will have the choice to pursue excellence close to home, to grow their roots in their county and to help address the regional imbalance. We also look forward to developing more campuses and outreach in Roscommon and Ballinasloe. Athlone IT offers outreach courses in different locations such as Pharma & Biotech in Ballinasloe less than 15 minutes travel away’
Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “This is another hugely important day for higher education in Ireland and in particular for the Midlands and Mid-West regions.
“The higher education landscape is rapidly evolving and the people of the Midlands and Mid-West will be at the heart both geographically and practically of that evolution.
“This new TU – our third since 2019 - will now take its rightful place in the higher education landscape in the country’s heartlands. The new higher education institution of increased scale and reach will benefit the students and communities of Westmeath, Roscommon, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare and Offaly to name but some of the counties which will be served by the new university.”
The first TU in the history of the state, TU Dublin, 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.
Since Minister Harris was appointed, €5 million of funding has been allocated to LIT and AIT for Transformation Funding.