The TU Research Network (TURN) was established to examine and report on how emerging TUs could achieve their sectoral and national strategic objectives.
The TU Research Network (TURN) was established in February 2019, by the Department of Education and Skills, to examine and report on how emerging TUs could achieve their sectoral and national strategic objectives and the supports that would be required for them to do so most effectively and efficiently.
TURN comprises the President of TU Dublin and the Presidents of each institution of technology (IoT) participating in development consortia working towards TU designation, together with senior representatives from the Technological Higher Education Association, the Higher Education Authority and the Department. The group’s independent chairperson is leading academic and international expert in higher education transformation processes, Professor Philip Gummett from the UK.
The report sets out the case for a state change in higher education reform for the delivery of national strategic priorities such as are elaborated in Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan and Future Jobs Ireland. This is to be achieved through the connectedness, particularly at regional level, collaboration and connectivity of technological universities (TUs) and their unique delivery of programmes across the full range of the National Framework of Qualifications from apprenticeships to doctoral degrees.
The report makes a series of 12 recommendations for outcomes that will provide TUs with a solid foundation for their development. These centre upon three thematic areas that TURN identified as the essential building blocks for successful TUs:
- investment in integrated multi-campus digital infrastructure to provide regional cohesion and to facilitate new modes of learning and the prioritisation of capital investment in TUs;
- investment in research capacity building by developing researcher human capital, facilitating research activity and opportunities for existing academic staff and implementing a researcher career development and employment framework, addressing infrastructural deficits and prioritising research strategies within TUs, exploiting fully the mutually supporting roles of teaching and research; and
- realignment of the policy framework and funding for TUs including an expansion of institutional autonomy and reform through the implementation of TU-apposite career structures, the reform of the grant allocation model to accommodate TUs, the creation of a dedicated TU funding stream including in the post-establishment phase and the creation of a borrowing framework for TUs.
The report recognises that relevant priority actions can only be achieved through a structured, system-wide, relevant and dynamic process that will ensure value for money, underpinned by a robust and evidence-based set of monitoring and evaluation arrangements.
As part of Budget 2020, the government announced a TU Transformation Fund (90 million euro) to support Institutes of Technology to achieve TU designation and to support the further advancement of established technological universities.