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Minister Harris officially opens new Atlantic Technological University

4 April 2022 

Minister Harris officially opens new Atlantic Technological University


Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (4th April 2022) opened the new Atlantic Technological University.


Atlantic TU sees the dissolution of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.


Speaking to mark the occasion, Minister Harris said: “The establishment of Atlantic Technological University, the fourth TU in the State, is a significant occasion for higher education in Ireland and, in particular, for the West and North West regions.

 “I know today is a day of mixed emotions as we dissolve GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT but it should be a day of immense pride too to the management, governing authorities and staff of the three institutions.

“Today is the start of a new journey. Together these institutions will merge to become ATU - a powerhouse working for the region, for investment in the region and its people.”

The first President of the new TU is Doctor Orla Flynn, outgoing President of Galway-Mayo IT, and its chair is Maura McNally, chair of the Bar Council of Ireland.


Minister Harris added: “Both Orla and Maura bring exceptional experience to the roles. I know they will work together to deliver real change and reform.


“This is a landmark that I am particularly glad to see reached, and I would like to congratulate all involved.”


Providing higher educational programmes across all levels of the National Framework of Qualifications including both apprenticeships and doctoral level qualifications, the new TU will play a pivotal role in the strategic regional development of the West and North West.


Atlantic Technological University

The establishment of Atlantic Technological University (or Ollscoil Teicneolaíochta an Atlantaigh in the Irish language) follows the submission of an application by Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny institutes of technology in May 2021, the assessment by an international advisory panel of the application, and following the panel’s report, the designation by the Minister of the new TU. .

Students of the three predecessor institutes who graduate in this academic year of 2021/2022 will do so with university qualifications.

The new name – chosen by the applicant institutes of technology – follows a survey of staff, students and industry. The multi-campus technological university will involve thousands of students spread across locations in Castlebar, Galway city, Killybegs, Letterfrack, Letterkenny, Mountbellew and Sligo.

The first president is Dr. Orla Flynn, current president of Galway-Mayo IT (GMIT) She has been designated by Minister Harris but will be formally appointed by the first governing body of the new TU upon its establishment.

In February Minister Harris appointed the following persons to the first governing body of the new TU:

  • Ms Maura McNally, Chair of the Bar Council of Ireland, as the chair of the first governing body;
  • Ms Oonagh Monaghan, founder and Managing Director of Alpha Omega Consultants Ltd. as an external member;
  • Mr. Felim McNeela, founder of Avenue Mould Solutions, as an external member;
  • Ms Anne McHugh, Chief Executive of Donegal ETB, who is the agreed nominee of all three Education and Training Boards in whose areas the TU multi-campuses are located.

This first governing body has 6 months from the date of establishment to fill out the entirety of the governing body of between 14 -22 members through legislatively prescribed election and appointment procedures.

The new TU will span the West and North-West region via eight campuses initially offering almost 600 academic programmes for over 20,200 students supported by 2,215 staff.

The new TU has 8 campuses in Sligo (IT Sligo), Galway City (GMIT x 2), Castlebar (GMIT), Letterfrack (GMIT), Mountbellew (GMIT) Letterkenny (LYIT) and Killybegs (LYIT).

This is the fourth TU to be created since 2019 and represents a milestone in higher education provision for the West and North West. The fifth, South East Technological University, will be established on 1 May and see the dissolution of Carlow and Waterford Institutes of Technology.

Providing higher educational programmes across all levels of the National Framework of Qualifications from apprenticeships to doctoral level qualifications, the new TU will play a pivotal role in the strategic development of the West and North West and in so doing, would ensure a global outlook and a civic centric value system. 

The new TU aims to ensure growth in education provision and enhanced research opportunities, as well as dynamic community and industry engagement across the region. Through its support for industry and communities, the new TU would make its region more attractive for indigenous Small Medium Enterprises (SMI) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by linking to opportunities in knowledge creation and innovation. This in turn would contribute to the development of viable and vibrant communities that can offer an economically and socially desirable regional counterbalance to the development of Dublin.

The new TU in the West and North West presents an opportunity to enhance, accelerate and amplify the ambition to contribute to the sustainable development of the region it serves reflected through teaching and learning excellence, research, development, innovation and engagement activities including in a cross-border collaborative context.


Programme for Government Commitment

Advancement of the TU agenda is a commitment in the Programme for Government 2020. TUs will significantly enhance progress towards national priorities in the areas of access to higher education, research-informed teaching and learning, supporting enterprise and enhancing regional development.

TUs, acting as catalysts for innovation and regional development, bring a range of benefits to their regions and hinterlands including increased FDI and capital investment, research funding, international recognition and enable students, staff, enterprise, business and the wider community to avail of increased opportunities in their own areas which, in turn, stand to reap the rewards of further socio-economic progress.


The Technological University Agenda:

The development and progression of technological universities (TUs) is an established policy objective of Government in the context of higher education landscape restructuring, research capacity building and socio-economic regional development. It has its genesis in recommendations contained in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 published in 2011.

Government announced in Budget 2020 the provision of €90 million over the next three years under a TU Transformation Fund to support IoTs to jointly achieve TU designation and to further the advancement of established TUs. This dedicated funding is additional to the €31 million in Exchequer funding invested in TU development and progression since 2013. To date some €60 million of the Transformation Fund has been allocated to relevant HEIs through the Higher Education Authority (HEA) with the final funding tranche of €30 million to be allocated later this year.

To date the Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA) consortium of GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT has received almost €16 million in Exchequer funding to advance its TU proposals.

In addition, €40 million is being allocated to a TU education and reforms project under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in the period to 2024.

Minister Harris’s Department, working in conjunction with the HEA, is also advancing a further TU oriented research funding application worth some €83 million under the auspices of the European Regional Development Fund 2021-2027.