2 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) are stepping up to the mark in terms of making all necessary supports available to Public Health and State agencies in the South West, and wider Munster Region, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific resources on call include relevant scientific, nursing, and technical resources, including personnel and scientific supplies and services, administrative support and buildings and physical resources in the Kerry and Cork campuses.
In the day to day business of the Institutes, there has been a tremendous response from staff to adapt and respond in a very short period of time to new formats of delivery and assessment predicated by the virtual shutdown of on-campus activity across all six campuses throughout CIT and IT Tralee, the partner institutes of the Munster Technological University (MTU) consortium. Equally, the commitment and engagement of the student body to adapt to this new remote Teaching & Learning platform gives great hope for the future of our community and economy. The camaraderie and mutual support structures which have sprung up across the student and staff community bears testament to the underlying ethos of both CIT and IT Tralee, their historic delivery, and future commitment to, Munster society.
Notwithstanding the current crisis, the MTU Consortium, in compliance with the instructions of Mr Joe McHugh, the Minister for Education and Skills, has this week responded to the Minister on the specific clarifications he had sought regarding the application for MTU to be designated as the State’s second Technological University. The designation as a technology university will enable MTU to play a leading role in the recovery of the Munster region post COVID-19, sustaining and developing community and economy. The building blocks for this recovery of community, and rebooting of the economy, are laid out clearly in the seminal TURN Report, the output from the Technological University Research Network, the Department of Education and Skills mediated network which has laid out the blueprint for the development of the Irish technological university sector. TURN speaks to: wider and more flexible access to Third Level education, facilitated by significantly upgraded broadband; increased and focused investment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics infrastructure within TUs; strong interaction with industry and community; TUs working to develop and sustain their regions while delivering a national and international impact. These objectives are shared by the MTU consortium and will be delivered on by MTU using tried and tested pathways such as Springboard programmes, lifelong learning opportunities, support of SMEs through focused research and bespoke in-company education and training, along with new initiatives made possible by the increased critical mass of the MTU, South West regional footprint, and the new national mission charted by TURN.