New Technological Universities will be created under the reforms set out in Ireland’s National Strategy for Higher Education.
The enactment of the Technological University legislation in March 2018, (Technological Universities Act, 2018) sets out a process whereby consortia may submit an application for TU designation. The format and contents of an application is a matter for the applicant institutes seeking an order under the Technological Universities Act 2018 in accordance with the process set out in the Act.
As of 2020, there is currently one designated technological university, one consortium pending designation and three consortia engaged with the process to become designated as technological universities:
- Technological University Dublin, designated January 2019.
- Munster Technological University (MTU), to be designated January 2021.
- Technological University for the South-East Ireland (TUSEI), consisting of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow.
- Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA), consisting of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
- Athlone IT and Limerick IT consortium, consisting of Athlone Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology.
Technological Universities will address the social and economic needs of their region and will engage in industry-focused research. Technological Universities will focus on science and technology programmes that are vocationally and professionally oriented.
The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 made recommendations for the creation of technological universities and the process and criteria for designation as a technological university were set out in the 2012 Landscape document.
A Technological University will be distinguished by a mission and ethos that is aligned and consistent with the current mission and focus of institutes of technology with an emphasis on programmes at levels 6 to 8 and industry-focused research. A Technological University will also be expected to play a pivotal role in facilitating access and progression particularly through relationships with the further education and training sector.
The creation of a technological university requires the consolidation of at least two institutes of technology. Each consortium applying for designation will be required to meet the designated criteria and achieve high standards across a range of areas before being designated as technological universities. These include standards relating to the qualifications of staff, the quality of research output, the proportion of students engaged in lifelong learning, amongst other areas.
The Technological Universities Bill was published in December 2015 and its main purpose was to give effect to the recommendations set out in the National Strategy with regard to the institute of technology sector, including the development of a new technological university model. In addition, the Bill provided for a number of important reforms to the governance and operation of the existing institutes of technology. The Bill was subject to amendments in 2016 and 2017, and was passed by Dáil Éireann in January 2018. The Technological Universities Act 2018 was enacted on the 19th March 2018.