The legislation to formally create a TU sector has yet to be passed, but Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) expect to apply next year to create a new entity.
It has been provisionally titled Munster Technological University since talks began five years ago and is now expected to enrol its first students in September 2019.
But the colleges first want to undertake research to assess the name’s suitability.
A budget of around €70,000 has been set aside for six months of branding work from next January or February.
The plan is to research and validate the Munster Technological University name and associated MTU abbreviation. CIT and ITT are aware, for example, of Michigan Technological University in the US, and of one of Germany’s biggest third-level colleges being the University of Munster.
If it turns out that the name “does not work”, alternative names will have to be developed, prospective tenderers for the brand identity work have been told. The project is expected to assess the impact of the name and brand, either MTU or a replacement, for international students as well as those in Ireland.
Any associated branding, logo, and website design work are also to be developed by the firm chosen. Publicity and advertising campaigns on billboards and public transport, and promotional stands at shopping centres and elsewhere are also planned.
University College Cork and University of Limerick are identified as the main competitors for the intended technological university.
However, there is still no certainty as to when the process allowing CIT and ITT to formally apply for TU status will be available. Even if current political instability is overcome, the underpinning legislation will not be passed until next year. The Technological Universities Bill passed committee stage last Thursday but is unlikely to become law before the end of 2017.
A spokesperson for Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said she expects substantial progress to have been made before the Christmas recess on getting the bill through the Oireachtas.
In order to be approved to form a TU, Cork, Tralee, and any of the other intending consortia must meet a series of benchmarks set by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in 2012. They include minimum numbers of staff with PhD qualifications, research activity, and other factors.
The HEA board expressed serious concerns about the MTU proposal in October 2014, despite its approval by an international panel to advance ot the next stage of the application process.
CIT is looking for a new president following an unsuccessful recruitment exercise earlier this year.
Its governance is under the spotlight over the recent revelation that €13,000 was spent on two retirement functions in June for outgoing president Brendan Murphy. It emerged that he personally approved most of the costs for the events, one of which featured a dolphin-shaped ice sculpture.