A new dawn as CIT and ITT become Munster Technological University 

Importantly for our students, it offers brighter horizons. It offers the option to study, work, live, and raise a family in their hometown or county.
A new dawn as CIT and ITT become Munster Technological University 

Working group members, Academic Council members, and other attendees from CIT and ITT, pictured at the first plenary academic council meeting of the Munster Technological University consortium consisting of CIT and IT Tralee in 2019. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM

Today marks the formal establishment of the Munster Technological University (MTU), and the beginning of a new dawn for the region.

This is only our second technological university in the country, and is a major step forward in ensuring each region in the country has access to a university.

From today, the Institute of Technology Tralee and Cork Institute of Technology will be no more. They will both be dissolved and a new singular institution known as Munster Technological University is formed.

I know many of you will wonder what difference this will make, or the benefits this will bring, but technological universities have the ability to change and transform regions.

On a very human level, they ensure our children do not have to travel across the country to access a university, and I know that is so important to the people of Kerry and Cork.

For businesses in the area, the presence of a university will drive the local economy and crucially, will ensure a link between higher education and the economy. It will ensure graduates have the specific skills that the region needs and will ensure they are job-ready on graduation.

For the Government and for me, it ensures international investors — or indeed Irish innovators — seeking to invest in Ireland and our people can look beyond our cities and towards our regions.

Importantly for our students, it offers brighter horizons. It offers the option to study, work, live, and raise a family in their hometown or county. Moving to the city is an option, but it is not your only one.

For decades, our conversations about education have been confined to which primary or secondary school our children will go to, how many Leaving Cert points our children need, and what university our children will attend.

I feel really strongly about the need to expand our horizons beyond those set parameters and remove the stigma attached to further education and apprenticeships.

Technology universities have the ability to broaden our viewpoint, to ensure a smooth transition between further and higher education. They provide higher education programmes at all levels, including apprenticeships, right up to doctoral degrees.

This provides significant opportunities for students and staff and wider stakeholders to learn, innovate, and grow in their own region.

As minister in this new department with a very long title, it is my ambition to ensure Kerry and Cork becomes a powerhouse for education, research, and innovation. Technological universities are a key component in this approach.

We know Kerry and Cork have the people, the talent, and the ambition — and it is our job as a Government to offer the opportunities.

From today, the new Munster Technological University will help us on that journey. It will drive access, pursue excellence in teaching and learning, regional development, and will strengthen linkages with industry and the community, all of which will greatly enrich and enhance the South West.

As a unified and cohesive new entity, Munster Technological University can expand beyond individual hinterlands and become a force to be reckoned with nationally and internationally.

The journey to get to this point has been long, and it has not been easy — nor should it be any other way. The greatest prizes require the greatest efforts — but the rewards are significant.

The university will be led by the second-ever female university president in our State. Professor Maggie Cusack will take up her role from today and will steer the progress of MU.

Today is a good day for higher education, but we will not rest there. I want us to realise the regional development potential of TUs right across the country, and I am determined to see further TUs established in the South East, the Midlands and Mid West, and the North West.

We all want to ensure that this generation, so affected already by the Covid-19 phenomenon, has the opportunities many before them did not. We want to ensure they have the skillsets and qualifications to compete and succeed in a fast-changing, digitalised, and highly competitive world.

We want to ensure they can study and develop as individuals in an environment that is welcoming and engaging, which has state-of-the-art facilities, which will teach them core values and the ability to work together, to solve problems and to contribute to wider society.

This is what the Munster Technological University offers in the South West, working alongside other fine institutions in the sector regionally, nationally, and internationally — not as a competitor, but as an equal partner, contributor and collaborator.

I would like to thank all concerned — the staff and students of both IT Tralee and Cork IT, a wide variety of stakeholders in the South West, the international advisory panel, Higher Education Authority, Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland, and the department, all of whom played a key role, statutory and non-statutory, in getting the fledgeling new university to this point of establishment.

I want to thank the people of Cork and Kerry and those in the surrounding area for their support in getting us this far. I know it is not often the people of Cork and Kerry find themselves shouting for the same team. But such is the importance of this project.

The horizon is full of hope and promise, but for today, it is a moment to celebrate for your region and to look forward to this exciting venture together.

Simon Harris TD is Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

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