Mr Bruton was in IT Carlow last week to turn the sod on a new €30m sports campus which will bolster the institute’s reputation as one of the leading third-level colleges for sport in Ireland.
However, he didn’t make any promises about the long-planned Technological University for the South East.
“We want to see the technological university, to put the southeast on the map,” the minister said.
He said a key element of the Government’s education policy was the development of the university.
IT Carlow president Patricia Mulcahy said that her college and Waterford IT were working hard on the formal application for technological university designation, with the submission to be made to the Government in September.
Waterford IT president professor Willie Donnelly was also present in Carlow for the sports campus announcement which occurred on the day the Government formally approves the establishment of the country’s first technology university, a joint venture between DIT and the institutes of technology at Blanchardstown and Tallaght to be based at Grangegorman.
Further applications are expected from the south (Cork IT and IT Tralee) and Connacht-Ulster as well as the southeast.
However, asked when a university could be up and running in the southeast, Mr Bruton said: “We are obviously waiting for an application to come forward from the colleges and there are high standards. This isn’t just a question of sending in your application and everything being signed off.
“There are ambitious achievements that have to be reached and the colleges have to set that out and that will take hard work.”
“If this were easy it would have been done years ago. It’s hard to develop the standard but the ambition is here and the opportunity is here and it’s at a time when the Government is committing huge monies in education for the next decade because we realise talent is the key to our future as a nation.”
The minister said he was thrilled at the statement of intent by the Government and the colleges involved to develop a technological university, and also at the development of the new sports campus in Carlow, “which is a statement of sporting ambitions”.
The 31-acre South Sports Campus, located one kilometre south of IT Carlow’s main campus on the Kilkenny Road, will include six full-size playing pitches as well as LED floodlighting and a 1.6km looped walking trail in its first phase, as well as a 400m athletics track and a pavilion building in phase two.
Phase one is due to be completed by next spring, with phase two taking another year.
“At a time when our sport and health policies are seeking to encourage people to take more exercise, South Sports Campus will ensure that Institute of Technology Carlow is the higher education institution of choice for students wishing to combine their academic study while participating at performance, competitive or recreational level in their chosen sports,” Dr Mulcahy said.