10 October 2019
By Bryan Smyth
A significant funding increase for Tertiary Education of €153 million, including a multi-annual programme of €90 million for Technological Universities, has been announced as part of the education provisions of Budget 2020.
At the announcement Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor outlined how “the sector needs this level of funding so as to be in prime position to address digital skills needs, to focus on upskilling, reskilling, and lifelong learning.” She added that “the continued investment will facilitate the sectoral response to the regional impacts of Brexit, as well as addressing growing demographic pressures.”
The allocation of €90 million to the multi-annual Technological Universities Transformation Fund signals firm Government commitment to the development of the Technological University (TU) sector. Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) which make up the Munster Technological University (MTU) consortium, welcome this vote of confidence in the emerging TU sector.
Jointly welcoming the announcement, President of CIT Dr Barry O’Connor and President of IT Tralee Dr Brendan O’Donnell said: “this transformation fund is a timely announcement and one that we wholeheartedly welcome as we near the establishment of MTU. The fund is a key enabler facilitating us in delivering a strong, sustainable, technological university that will meet the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing Ireland and the South West region. The creation of MTU will help to position Munster, and the South West, as the next major region outside of Dublin, significantly boosting and enabling regional growth and development. MTU will build on the unique strengths of both founding Institutions and contribute to the realisation of the potential of the new TU sector. Serving our region, but within the context of wider national and international opportunities and challenges, will be our key objective. We are determined to make our vision a reality in line with stated Government policy.”
The fund will assist Technological Universities in delivering significant inputs to national strategic priorities in relation to higher education access, research informed teaching and learning excellence. It will also assist increased regional development and socio-economic progress through TUs connectedness to their regions, and their collaboration, deeply embedded and fostered over many decades, with business, enterprise and local communities.
The MTU consortium also welcomes the additional funding being made available to support Higher Education Research. The specific funding being earmarked for student mental health and wellbeing is most welcome and a timely recognition of the growing needs for such supports across the Higher Education sector.