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  • A Technological University for the West/North-West of Ireland

    • What is a Technological University (TU)?

      • The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 defines a TU as: ‘a higher education institution that operates at the highest academic level in an environment that is specifically focussed on technology and its application through exploitation of intellectual property and technology transfer, support for entrepreneurship, enterprise development and innovation, development of a skilled workforce, staff and student mobility and service to the community.’
        Technological Universities are an established feature in many other education systems, globally particularly within Europe. Whilst they vary widely in many of their characteristics, they generally share a focus on the preparation of students for the world of work, with a particular emphasis on the role of technology in all its aspects.

        The draft Technological Universities Bill, 2015 states that a technological university, having particular regard to the needs of the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located shall :-
        • provide teaching and facilitate learning that is informed by research, and promotes excellence at all levels of higher education within the Framework,
        • provide programmes of education and training that reflect the needs of citizens, business, enterprise, the professions and other stakeholders in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located and facilitate learning by flexible means,
        • provide for the broad education, intellectual and personal development of students, for the purpose of enabling them, as graduates, to excel in their chosen careers and to contribute responsibly to social, civic and economic life in innovative and adaptable ways,
        • provide opportunities for staff and students of the technological university to teach, learn or conduct research at institutions that provide higher education outside the State, or to obtain relevant work experience outside the State, and shall provide opportunities for staff and students of institutions that provide higher education outside the State to teach, learn or conduct research at the technological university,
        • collaborate with institutions that provide higher education inside and outside the State, including on joint research projects and provision of programmes of education and training,
        • support a body of research that includes research relevant at regional, national and international levels and pursue excellence in the conduct of that research,
        • support entrepreneurship, enterprise development and innovation in business, enterprise and the professions through teaching and the conduct of research and through effective transfer to those and other sectors, as it sees fit, of knowledge arising from that research,
        • collaborate with business, enterprise, the professions and related stakeholders in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located to promote the involvement of those stakeholders in the design and delivery of programmes of education and training, and to ensure that, in so far as possible, innovation activity and research undertaken by the technological university reflects the needs of those stakeholders,
        • support the development of a skilled labour force including, where appropriate, engaging in the education and training of apprentices in accordance with policy relating to that education and training for the time being communicated to the technological university by An tÚdarás, the Government or any Minister of the Government,
        • support the mobility of staff and students of the technological university into and out of the labour force through collaboration with business, enterprise, the professions and related stakeholders in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located,
        • serve the community and public interest by supporting the delivery of policies or objectives of the Government or any Minister of the Government, in relation to development of business and enterprise at a local, regional or national level, and fostering close and effective relationships with statutory bodies whose functions relate to regional development, local authorities, the education and training boards and other providers of further education in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located,
        • serve the community and public interest by contributing to the promotion of the economic, cultural and social development of the State, respecting the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society, promoting critical and free enquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate within the technological university and in wider society, and by promoting an entrepreneurial ethos,
        • promote access to the technological university and the education it provides, by economically or socially disadvantaged persons, by persons who have a disability and by persons from sections of society in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located who are significantly under-represented in its student body,
        • undertake assessment of students, and award degrees and other qualifications,
        • make best use of its expertise and resources, whether or not on a commercial basis, for the purposes of its functions under this Act,
        • provide directly, or in collaboration with other providers of programmes of education and training, facilities for all levels of higher education within the Framework, including technological and professional education, and for research,
        • collaborate with persons or bodies inside and outside the State for the purpose of its functions under this Act, and
        • promote the attainment of gender balance and equality of opportunity among the students and staff of the technological university.
        • may accept gifts of money, land or other property subject to such trusts and conditions, if any, as are not in conflict with this Act, specified by the donor.

         

    • Why does Ireland need a Technological University in the West/North-West?

      • As is evident from Figures 1 and 2 and Tables 1 to 3, there is an imbalance across the country in terms of population distribution, levels of employment regional incomes and the higher education qualifications profile. The current pace of development of industry in a few major geographical centres is not consistent with a long term economic, social and cultural regional balance. There is an opportunity now to greatly improve the ability of the West/North West region to grow at a faster pace by providing local access across the region to university education which will attract and cater for students of all levels and optimise the prospect of retaining them in the region as magnets and enablers of development.
        A TU in the region will drive the development and implementation of an economic development plan for the West/North-West.
        Assuming that the TU4Dublin and the MTU are re-designated as TUs, there will be five universities in Dublin, two in Cork, and one each in Limerick, Galway and Maynooth. While much is talked about the absence of a university in the South-East the fact is that there is no university from east to west in the Republic of Ireland above the Dublin-Galway line. This is leading to a significant number of students leaving to be educated outside the region (45% of new entrants to 3rd level from the CUA region attend HEIs outside of the region), many of whom do not return to the region; this further compounds the existing deficit of inward investment and of growth in new enterprises and employment in the region.

        Figure 1: One in 5 people live in the Connacht-Ulster (CU) Region



        Figure 2: Graphic shows the range of students attending Irish universities, highlighting the poor access to university education in the West/North-West region of Ireland (from Cullinan et al., In: How equal? Access to higher education in Ireland, HEA, November 2013). It is noteworthy that, 45% of 3rd level students from the Connacht-Ulster region study outside the region (CAO statistics).



        Table 1: Demographic Profile of the CU Regiona

        Regional profile National Averageb Connacht-Ulster South-East Dublin Region Cork-Kerry
        Persons finishing their full-time education at 15-17 years of age

        21.9%

        (8.0% Under 15)

        22.4%

        (10.2%

        Under 15)

        25.6%

        (8.6%

        Under 15)

        20.5%

        (7.2%

        Under 15)

        20.7%

        (6.7%

        Under 15)

        Unemployment rate (Q1 2015)*

        9.9%

        10.8%

        12.8%

        8.5%

        9.7%

        16-24 year olds [NEETs] (at 2011 Census)

        38.7%

        42.3%

        43.8%

        35%

        35.4%

        Long-term unemployment (i.e. for more and 1 year)*

        46.1%

        46.8%

        46.8%

        44.6%

        42.9%

        Population with HE qualifications

        29.1%

        26.0%

        23.1%

        34.5%

        28.6%

        Primary or no formal education

        15.2%

        18.9%

        16.5%

        13.2%

        14.0%

        Number of students enrolled in 2nd level education in the region

        367,178 enrolled at 2nd level (2013/14)

        65,985 enrolled at 2nd Level (18% of all enrolments)

        9,861 Leaving Cert candidates in 2012 (19% of all LC)

        41,472 enrolled at 2nd level (11.3% of all enrolments)

        137,134 enrolled at 2nd level (37.3% of all enrolments)

        54,983 enrolled at 2nd level (15% of all enrolments)

        a. Headings based on categories cited in ‘Engagement and Consultation Process on a Technological University for the South-East’, Report to the Minister for Education and Skills, Michael Kelly, 2nd July 2015
        b. Data sources from CSO Census 2011, CSO Live Register, CSO Quarterly National Household Survey, Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Education and Skills. Where NUTS 3 data has been used the statistic for the CU region includes data for Louth, whereas the other consortia align with existing NUTS 3 regions (Border, Dublin, Mid-East, Mid-West, Midland, South-East, South-West and West)
        * Based on NUTS 3 regions rather than county level data

        Table 2: Employment Profile of the CU Region

        Regional profile National Average Connacht-Ulster South-East Dublin Region Cork-Kerry
        Education level of unemployed persons*

        21.7% of unemployed persons had at most lower secondary education, while 26.9% of those unemployed held a 3rd level qualification

        23.9% of unemployed persons had at most lower secondary education, while 26.7% of those unemployed held a 3rd level qualification

        27.6% of unemployed persons had at most lower secondary education, while 23.8% of those unemployed held a 3rd level qualification

        23.9% of unemployed persons had at most lower secondary education, while 26% of those unemployed held a 3rd level qualification

        25.5% of unemployed persons had at most lower secondary education, while 25.8% of those unemployed held a 3rd level qualification

        Persons at work with a 3rd level qual.

        41%

        37%**

        34%

        47%

        39%

        Largest employment sectors*

        270,400 employed in Wholesale & Retail (14%)

        249,600 employed in Health & Social Work (13%)

        54,700 employed in Wholesale & Retail (15%)

        56,300 employed in Industry (15%)

        29,000 employed in Wholesale & Retail (15%)

        27,900 employed in Industry (14%)

        109,800 employed in Wholesale & Retail (14%)

        103,500 employed in Health & Social Work (13%)

        41,500 employed in Wholesale & Retail (15%)

        45,000 employed in Industry (16%)

        Modern industry (2011 data) *

        548 out of 5504 industrial units were in this sector (just under 10%) producing 36.5% of the country’s gross value of industrial output

        119 out of 1278 industrial units were in this sector (just over 9%) producing nearly 34% of the region’s gross value of industrial output

        60 out of 672 industrial units in this sector accounted for less than 10% of units, producing nearly 60% of the region’s gross value of industrial output

        180 out of 1771 industrial units in this sector accounted for just over 10% of units, producing nearly 68% of the region’s gross value of industrial output

        97 out of 916 industrial units in this sector accounted for 10.6% of units, producing nearly 70% of the region’s gross value of industrial output

        Financial and high tech services *

        over 15% of the state’s employment

        almost 11% of the region’s employment

        10% of the region’s employment

        over 22% of the region’s employment

        almost 11% of the region’s employment

        High-tech manufacturing *

        26%

        12.5%, well below the national average

        20%

        38%

        36%

        High skilled occupations (managers, professionals and associate professionals) *

        38%

        The average across the border and west region is 32%***

        33%

        45%

        35%

        Financial, information & communication activities*

        9.4%

        5.8%

        5.4%

        14.4%

        6%

        * Based on NUTS 3 regions rather than county level data
        ** With the exception of Galway, all counties in the region had a lower than average share of persons at work with third level qualifications in 2011, with Cavan and Monaghan having the lowest rates nationally (29.7% and 29.9% respectively)
        *** Galway above average at 40% with Cavan and Monaghan having the lowest shares at 29% each.

        Table 3: CU Regional Student Profile

        Regional profile National Average Connacht-Ulster South-East Dublin Region Cork-Kerry
        New Entrants to HEI in receipt of a student grant by Institute1

        46% across all institutions, 36% for Universities and 56% for IoT’s

        64% across CUA Partners with LYIT and IT Sligo having the highest numbers nationally, (71% and 64% respectively)

        59%

        47% across the TU4 Dublin institutes, the lowest among the TU consortia

        53% average NE in receipt of grants in Cork IT and Tralee IT

        Students in receipt of a grant based on county of origin

        46%

        58% of new entrants from CUA counties were in receipt of a grant in 2013/20142

        55%

        38%, well below the national average

        47%

        1. In 2014, 43% of 2nd level graduates progressing to 3rd level enrolled at HEIs outside the CU region
        2. The top 4 counties nationally for grants were in the CU region, Donegal (67%), Monaghan (63%), Cavan (61%) and Leitrim (61%)


        Clearly, the West-North/West region needs to become more knowledge-driven with a greater focus on technical innovation. The building of a stable economic, social and cultural environment in the West-North/West could be strongly underpinned by creating a technological university in the region; a truly regionally focussed, entrepreneurial university with dynamic engagement in partnership with enterprises and support agencies, providing leadership and coordination as a catalyst for regional Research Development and Innovation (RDI).
        An interesting statistic for the region is that, 45% of those 2nd level graduates who go on to enrol in higher education, study outside of the region. Student participation in higher education is a function of the proximity to a HEI that provide them with the programmes they want to study, Paradoxically, access to higher education, particularly for those in the lower socio-economic category is also a function of the proximity to a HEI – the further from home of the institution, the less likely that the person will enrol. A university which offers a comprehensive range of programmes, across a geographically dispersed region, with strong graduate career opportunities through links with regional enterprises will lead to higher enrolment numbers (i.e. retention of the children from the region), and will improve employment opportunities for graduates in the region.
        Moreover, a second university in the region, focussed on enterprise and innovation, will have a positive impact on the attractiveness of the region as a location for new companies to innovate and grow. Companies requiring highly skilled innovative workers typically locate close to a university, one with active industrial links.
        We believe that in creating a TU for the West/North-West, we can meet the needs of existing participants in a new and better way and that we can embrace people traditionally excluded from higher education, including providing a range of up-skilling opportunities to those in employment or seeking employment. The opportunity to create such a TU arises infrequently – not more than once in a lifetime. We believe that if we can mobilise the talents and energy of colleagues across our three institutions and build on our existing strengths, we can realise this opportunity. In overarching terms:
        • graduates of a TU will possess a university qualification which is internationally portable,
        • a TU can provide a critical mass in terms of research capacity, to ensure that it attracts the best researchers and to develop world-class capability in high-value niche areas,
        • a TU can provide a fit-for-purpose structure that better reflects the diverse learning
        requirements of its students, both those who enter after the Leaving Certificate or equivalent, and those who enter later, or through different further education pathways,
        • a TU can provide for necessary structural changes to ensure greater effectiveness by providing enhanced opportunities for sectoral collaboration, external engagement, and better trans-national co-operation,
        • A TU can act as a beacon to attract inward investment to the region and can provide direct support to businesses to start and grow in the region,
        • TU designation validates by name both the contribution to and association with the socio-economic, cultural, commercial and technological communities in the region.

        The specific case for a TU in the West/North-West of Ireland can be summarised in terms of the HE landscape, the organisations, and educationally, as follows:

        In terms of the Higher Education Landscape:
        • Natural progression in the life-cycle of the current non-university HEI sector
           o     Already operating like university
           o     Delegated Authority for awards up to Level 10 (Level 9 across the sector)
           o     Designation as a Degree Awarding Body forthcoming
        • The economic structure of the country is skewed towards the East coast
           o     85% of FDIs stay in the Dublin economic region – an opportunity to become an innovative and entrepreneurial TU that is a catalyst for the transformation of the regional economy
        • The time is right – enactment of national policy
        • We owe it to the people of the West/North-West to make the case
           o     TUs in the East, South-East and South-West – and we have a strong case
           o     As a region, we need to do it for ourselves!
        • A ‘business-as-usual’ stance is unlikely to be well supported into the future

        In terms of organisations:
        • Shared vision of GBs and good collaboration between the partner institutes
        • Opportunities from scaling-up of the regional HE system
           o     greater financial sustainability
           o     borrowing framework and capacity
           o     surpluses - making big projects small
           o     responsiveness, decisiveness and resources to deliver on projects
           o     attractiveness to other (international) HEIs for collaboration
        • Improved student recruitment
        • Enhanced regional and international competitive funding opportunities
        • Career opportunities for staff
           o     e.g. Professorships, new disciplines, new functions, international collaborations and exchanges, industrial secondments

        In Educational terms:
        • A ‘university’/IoT qualification’
           o     Brand recognition
        • An even better range of PROGRAMMES for students
           o     Wider range of discipline areas and elective choice through access to more expertise
           o     Stronger disciplines– e.g. Environmental/Marine Science, Medical Technologies, Social Care
           o     A greater emphasis on entrepreneurship/start-your-own –business on all programmes
           o     Post graduate opportunities from all programmes
        • An even better range of SERVICES for students
           o     Improved access to education for more students across 8 campuses, through flexible delivery
           o     Greater diversity of students through stronger national and international marketing
           o     International exchanges and semesters abroad
           o     Better educational facilities through increased access to funding
        • An even better range of CAREER OPPORTUNITIES for graduates
           o     Educational-employment agreements with businesses
           o     Contributing to attaching more start-ups and business investment into the region
           o     Work placement experience as part of more programmes

         

         

    • What is an Entrepreneurial University?


      • Policies have been developed at EU level that support new Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) having a mission for regional development, particularly in regions with low economic status (See ‘Good practice series 2014: case studies on engaged and Entrepreneurial Universities, Published by: university Industry Innovation Network; editors: Arno Meerman & Thorsten Kliewe; https://www.uiin.org/index/gps )
        By ‘making knowledge useful’, a Technological University can use its knowledge, facilities and resources to scan the available local economic and market opportunities, to identify technologies which can be applied within the region and to develop expertise in their application. In this way, an innovative and entrepreneurial TU acts as a catalyst for the transformation of the regional economy through its programme design, graduate development, collaborative R&D, technology licencing and spinouts. The three IoTs intend to develop into a regional entrepreneurial Technological University that provides the region with the educational, business synthesis and societal development capacity associated with a university and necessary to optimise the region’s future development. This is one of the key steps required to enable regionally balanced development in the future.
        The TU for the West/North-West will behave in an entrepreneurial way by :
        • being internally responsive, flexible and risk taking
        • engendering a business awareness among students and by supporting and encouraging new business start-ups and a spirit of entrepreneurship among the student population
        • working closely with the external business community, through business networking and engaging on initiatives and projects to attract inward investment and to grow the local economy.

         

    • What will the new TU of the West/North-West look like?

      • The governance, academic and organisational structures of the new TU will be addressed as part of the planning by the three CUA institutions toward becoming a TU. It will also entail extensive consultation. During the process of becoming a TU, structures will follow strategy and will be designed to best support the TU, taking into account the range of programme offerings proposed, the services to be delivered, and geographic considerations.

        Ten proposed attributes of the new TU:
        i) a catalyst for the transformation of the regional economy through its partnership with regional developers to plan for the long-term economic, social and cultural growth of the region, and through its employment-relevant programmes, its work-ready graduates, its R&D that supports the development of sustainable regional industries, and through the new technologies and business knowledge that it transfers to these industries,
        ii) providing a learning environment in partnership with employers, that educates ‘graduate entrepreneurs’ capable of starting their own businesses and who will make a significant contribution to the growth and development of regional companies,
        iii) a regionally-based multi-campus TU, serving traditional and non-traditional learners from across a highly dispersed, mostly rural community, offering apprenticeships and higher education programmes at all levels through innovative access, transfer and progression routes to higher education,
        iv) committed to the provision of professional masters and structured PhD programmes that are developed, and delivered, in collaboration with industry,
        v) building on it’s reputation as a national leader in blended education, encompassing traditional methods of delivery coupled with state of the art online and distance learning, and become a nexus of continuous professional development and the National Centre for Life Long Learning,
        vi) using blended and online learning methods to deliver to the educational needs of the workforce across the region and beyond, facilitating learning at a rate that suits the learner, by accrediting experience and by negotiating a process of credit accumulation
        vii) a beacon for attracting talented students, inward investment and entrepreneurs into the region, br> viii) having strong collaborative partnerships with selected international higher education institutions that includes student and staff exchanges, international conferences and joint teaching and research programmes,
        ix) providing expertise and policy development on regional, national and international societal challenges,
        x) an entrepreneurial university, offering a wider range of career opportunities, including career progression, professional development (including industrial refresher training) and promotion opportunities for staff.

         

    • Where will the necessary investment in infrastructure come from?

      • In 2016, the HEA provided funding to the four TU consortia towards supporting the ‘restructuring of the higher education landscape’. The CUA was awarded €757,000 for a planned programme of activities in 2016 that work towards becoming a TU. There are indications that additional funding will be made available in subsequent years as the establishment of TUs gets closer to a reality.
        In addition, (based on the authority granted under the draft TU Bill), the new TUs will be allowed to borrow capital development funds. An indication of the scale of this is provided in the following table:

        European Investment Bank Funding of Irish Universities

        HEI Date Amount Purpose
        DCU 2015 €76M New Bioanalytical Research Facility building, refurbishment of the DCU Innovation Campus, teaching and research facilities, renovation of the University's Student Centre and sport facilities and update the University's IT infrastructure.
        TCD 2015 €70M New Business School on campus, additional student accommodation and other related student services, new centre for the Institute of Population Health.
        NUIM 2014 €77M New library, an ICT teaching and research facility, educational sciences and student accommodation and service buildings.
        UL 2013 €100M New research institute, clinical education buildings, research facilities for pharmaceutical science, biomedical materials and engineering, expansion of the library.
        UCD 2011 €90M New Science Centre, refurbishment and new construction of student residences, construction of a new Science Link building and construction of the new School of Law buildings

         

    • How will the TU for the West/North-West be different from what we currently are?

      • Defining the characteristics of a TU for the West/North-West will require a substantial body of work and widespread consultation with multiple stakeholders. Characteristics envisaged at this stage include:
        • ease of access to third level education through multiple pathways for those in employment, those seeking work and young people from the region, including those whose families have not previously attended higher education
        • education that is delivered in a flexible manner, facilitating participation by a population that is dispersed across a large geographical region
        • a strong focus active support for economic, social and cultural regional development, in partnership with other public bodies, enterprises, community groups and employers,
        • a commitment to facilitating all students to experience the entrepreneurial process through education and training partnerships with regional companies, that includes a structured work-based experience, and the provision of business development spaces and supports as part of the learning process
        • a high level of research and technology transfer supporting development of regional businesses,
        • encouraging staff to engage in providing support to regional enterprises by ensuring equal recognition of the achievements of entrepreneurial cooperation with external partners as well as for academic publications,
        • the active participation of stakeholders of the TU, i.e. students, staff, business representatives and the wider community, in governance, management and operations.

         

    • Are the TU criteria appropriate to the vision of the TU for the CU region?

      • The TU criteria were outlined in the HE Landscape document and were subsequently articulated more specifically in the draft TU Bill issued in the autumn of 2015. While this Bill was debated in the Dáil, it was not passed before the national elections were call. As of June 2016, draft (2015) TU Bill is back on the Dáil Order Paper at Committee (Education and Skills) Stage.
        Some of the criteria put strong emphasis on the importance of engagement and support for regional enterprises, other criteria (and particularly the metrics) focus on academic outputs such as research enrolments and staff with PhD qualifications who are actively engaged in supervision of research students. In future submissions to the HEA we will be emphasising our achievements, and plans for greater engagement with new business development and growth of industry as a regional entrepreneurial university serving the needs of regional enterprises. In the new TU it is envisioned that there will be parity of esteem between the recognition accorded academic publications and the entrepreneurial virtue of cooperating with external partners.
        It is worth noting that the Teachers Union of Ireland, among others, have expressed concern about the requirement to merge before being re-designated as a TU, The CUA Presidents, as early as 2012, wrote to the Minister querying the need for this requirement. Arising from this, it is likely that the TU Bill will change in this regard over previous versions. However, there is a strong view at this stage that the underlying criteria will not change substantially in any new draft Bill.

         

    • Why not stay as an IoT?

      • This is a fundamental question for all IoTs. There are four consortia: CUA (GMIT, LYIT, IT Sligo), TU4Dublin (DIT, ITB, ITTa), MTU (CIT, ITTr) and SETU (WIT, ITC). Other IoTs (AIT, LIT, DKIT and IADT) have decided to remain as ‘stand-alone’ IoTs. As a general point, the future of stand-alone IoTs is unclear and their future functions are not considered in the draft 2015 TU Bill. .
        Some of the arguments for pursuing a trajectory towards re-designation as a TU are discussed below.
        Looking back over the last 46 years, we have seen the creation of Regional Technical Colleges that went on to achieve a high level of technological training and education, responding to regional needs up to a point within a legal and governance framework managed by the VECs. Subsequently, these RTCs were allowed to develop into Institutes of Technology, with expanded self-governing authority and have since significantly broadened their portfolio of technological education up to Level 10, and have made deep inroads into partnering with regional industry to develop an educated workforce that meets the needs of employers. With the possibility of becoming a technological university, the IoTs have the opportunity to envisage what higher educational services are needed over the next 46 years. If the HEIs are truly responding to the needs of the region, then the form and function of higher education is likely to be significantly different than the current profile. Establishing a TU is one way to start that journey.
        In becoming a technological university the benefits to the region are perceived to be mainly with the (i) enhancement of access and range of educational services, the (ii) greater impact on regional development and the achievement of (iii) international competitiveness. Arguably, these benefits are more realisable for a higher education organisation of sufficient scale, as compared with (continuing to be) three separate, relatively small institutes of technology.
        Given the fact of the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030, with its proposal that TUs be established from existing IoTs, it is essential that each IoTs asked itself if it wants to pursue the TU opportunity. The three Governing Bodies of the CUA all support the exploration of becoming a TU. Furthermore, through internal and external consultation, the regional community get the opportunity to input into what is best for them – be it a TU or to remain as an IoTs. This decision, whatever the outcome, is very important to the shaping of the future educational, economic, social and cultural regional landscape.
        Whatever the final decision by each IoT to purse re-designation as a TU, the collaborative projects developed across the three IoTs will likely enhance the provision of education services in the region. Without the incentive of the TU objective, it is less likely that the three IoTs would enter into such beneficial collaborative projects.
        The process of becoming a TU is challenging and there are many threats and risks to be encountered along the way. Indeed, the very process of pursuing a trajectory towards becoming a TU could conclude with the decision that the institutes can best serve the region by remaining as three independent autonomous institutions. In saying this, there is a tacit acknowledgement of the significant achievements of the three institutes and what they deliver to regional education, growth and development, over 46 years of their existence since the early 1970s.
        The CUA is located in a large geographical rural area, with a relatively small and widely dispersed population who have lower than the national average employment prospects with the mostly SME employer-base. While the sector is currently beset with resource constraints, budgetary cut backs, uncertainty in national policy, and indeed deficit budgeting, the challenge for the CUA is to develop a long-term perspective on how to best meet the future needs of this region. The institutes must demonstrate their maturity as higher education providers in thinking long-term, in envisaging the future needs of higher education in what will be a very different regional and global environment in 2060. The three institutions will be judged on how well they do this, be it to stand alone as IoTs or TUs or to come together as one TU.
        As indicated in the TU Bill (still under discussion in the Dáil), the new TUs will have additional powers to borrow funds. This facility opens up significant opportunities for resource development, which is particularly pertinent in the large dispersed, rural part of Ireland that is the Connacht-Ulster region.
        On a purely business perspective, it is internationally recognised that a university brand is more highly sought after than the brand of an institute of technology – this is despite the high calibre of the education, industry engagement and graduates from IoTs. Therefore, by becoming a TU it is likely that applications and enrolments will grow. A second consequence is that the region will be more attractive (easier to sell) for inward investment and for new company start-ups due to the presence of a technological university.
        National statistics for new entrants to third level over recent years shows a trend that some 45% of the 2nd level graduates who attend third level go to HEIs outside of the C-U region. This may be due to the desire on the part of some students to experience living away from home, but may also be indicative of the perception that the existing IoTs and NUIG are not offering a sufficiently diverse and interesting range of programmes to attract more enrolments. International trends also show that many of those who leave a region to further studies do not return to work in the region once they graduate from college. Arguably, the potential of the region will be greatly enhanced by providing a university of scale that is a desirable place to study and that contributes to creating employment opportunities for our children in the region.

         

    • Why not aim to become a merged IoT?

      • The argument for merging IoTs into a ‘super IoTs has been floated by those who see the primary advantage as one of economies of scale, cost reduction and rationalisation. By transforming into a TU there is a unique opportunity to change the vision and mission of the higher education institution in a more fundamental and radical way than could be achieved by simply merging the three institutes. Furthermore, as a merged IoT the benefits of a university brand and borrowing powers would not be available. The regional loyalty to each IoT should also not be overlooked. The linking of the name of the IoTs, to particular counties has engendered a sense of ownership and pride in the local communities. It is likely that, merging ‘their’ IoT with others from other localities would not be perceived as a positive development (with, for example, the potential for loss of the local identify in the new name of the super IoT).
        It is worth noting that the Teachers Union of Ireland, among others, have expressed concern about the requirement to merge before being re-designated as a TU, The CUA Presidents, as early as 2012, wrote to the Minister querying the need for this requirement. One for the reasons for this negative view of merging is the potential that, once a number of IoTs merge, they opportunity to become a TU will be severely limited, if not removed. This matter is under consideration in Q3/Q4 2016 as the Dáil committee meets to consider the draft TU Bill.

         

    • How will a TU differ from a merged IoT?

      • • In becoming a TU, the many successful achievements of the three IoTs will be retained and enhanced. In the process there is an opportunity to reconfigure the HEI structure to optimise the allocation of resources to priority areas, such as student work-based learning and research. The TU will also consolidate and expand engagement with employers and regional development agencies to make an even greater contribution to regional growth and graduate employment than has been achieved so far,
        • Exploiting the university brand, the TU will be an attractive place to study and will have more enrolments, thereby bringing in high exchequer funds that the three IoTs collectively. • As large university (with some 20,000 students) there will be greater levels of international collaboration and exchanges for both students and staff in areas of teaching, research and emerging industrial practices.
        • The borrowing capacity of a large university (which an IoT does not have access to) will open up opportunities for the enhancement and expansion of facilities to be able to compete on an equal basis with other national and international universities.

         

    • Is this mission drift/devaluing academic standards?

      • The expression of interest that was approved by the Minister for Education and Skills in October 2015, outlined a vision and mission of the TU that builds on the mission of the existing three IoTs. Rather than drifting, the CUA will become an entrepreneurial university that will empower staff and students to demonstrate enterprise, innovation and creativity in research, teaching and pursuit and use of knowledge across boundaries and that deepens its commitment to the Level 6-10 ladder system of progression, with a concomitant strong emphasis on professional teaching and on industrial engagement. Concern has also been expressed by some that there will be a drift towards research, thus undermining the strong emphasis on teaching that exists in the IoTs. The counter argument to this is that the TU will, in fact, more openly recognise and reward the research that is going on within the IoTs in areas of pedagogical advances, in developing business solutions for regional companies, and in supporting business start-ups through its incubation centres – that do not necessarily lead to formal academic publications but are adding real value to the region.

         

    • Is this a take over? Who will be playing second fiddle?

      • The CUA is an alliance of equals. The three institutions are close to each other in size and there are many similarities in the services provided. Each institution brings something unique to the alliance, be it strong cross-border links, a wide geographical spread of campuses or blended and online delivery.
        The CUA will work to meet the TU criteria as an alliance, not as three separate IoTs.

    • Who is the lead partner and is their achievement of the criteria being weakened by the others?

      • No one institute is leading the other two in terms of reaching the criteria. While each institute is meeting each of the criteria at different scales, our intention is to agree processes across each institute that will ensure that the CUA collectively is meeting the criteria.

    • Why should an individual IoT not seek TU status on its own?

      • Each of the IoTs in the CUA does not believe that it should be (or is capable of) seeking re-designation as a TU on its own. Together we have some 15,000 students, 1,500 staff and an annual budget of some €130m. The three institutes also have an excellent combined track record of collaborating with, and meeting the needs of regional employers

    • Why not stay as a stand-alone IoT?

      • A number of IoTs have chosen to do this, including AIT, DKIT, LIT and IADT. However, at this point in time the CUA believes that the pursuit of TU re-designation is the best option for the West/North-West. Whatever the final decision to follow this objective, the act of investigating and exploring the TU potential will (a) address the question: why/why not to become a TU and (b) identify and develop collaborations between the three IoTs that will enhance the offering to students and to regional businesses. Also, the HEA have made some €9m available to HEIs who are exploring the opportunity of merging, funds which are not available to the stand-alone IoTs.
        Furthermore, the future of stand-alone IoTs is unclear and they are not catered for in the draft 2015 TU Bill.

    • Will the names of the existing higher education institutions be changed?

      • It is important that the heritage and values of the IoTs is preserved in the new brand of the TU. It is also important that the regional location of the TU is retained in the brand. Looking at technological universities around the world, there is a variety of titles used and, in fact, there is not a requirement to use the ‘technological university’ phrase in the title. While it is likely that there will need to be an overarching title for the new TU, it is envisioned that there will also be a clear association with each of the local campuses.

    • How is it possible to provide effective higher education across a relatively large, rural, geographical region?

      • We believe it is. Organisations of all kinds operate across multiple sites today. We will have eight campuses spanning the length and breadth of the region and we will use technology to reach out to potential students across the region. An appropriate management and governance structure will be designed to reflect the geographical distribution of the campuses. There are similar models elsewhere with campus locations covering widely dispersed populations, often on a far greater scale than the west/north west region. For example, the Broken Hill campus of the Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia, is located 1,100 km from the Manly campus. The Dunoon campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland, is 280 kilometres from the Inverness campus.

    • What level of support for a TU is there from external employers?

      • There is a file of letters of support from employers. During 2016, the CUA will consult extensively with enterprises, business representative bodies, state agencies and public representatives and we believe that they will be very supportive of the enhancements to the higher education provision in the region that this opportunity will provide.

    • What level of support for a TU is there from the community?

      • The CUA is embarking on a process of consultation with external stakeholders that will be completed in Autumn 2016. The views of community groups will be sought as part of this process. The findings of this work will be published and will be used to inform any future expressions of the vision and mission of the new TU.

  • The Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA)

    • What is the CUA?

      • In July 2012, Letterkenny IT, Galway-Mayo IT and IT Sligo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and formed the Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA) with the stated ambition of achieving designation as a Technological University.

    • Why do we need the Connacht-Ulster Alliance?

      • In 2012, the HEA developed a set of criteria for the process of re-designation as a Technological University and, initially, each institution considered its options in response to this. In the same year, GMIT, LYIT and IT Sligo commenced working together (as the CUA), towards achieving the criteria required to be designated as a TU as this was considered to be the best option for the West/North-West. The CUA partners have made a substantial contribution to raising the educational profile of the region and to attracting innovative enterprises into the region, and have demonstrated their capability to evolve over the last 45 years to meet regional needs. The CUA is committed to continuing to change in order to best meet the future needs of the region. The very process of working together under the banner of the CUA, with the ambition of becoming a TU (whether or not this is eventually realised), will focus and deepen the embeddedness of higher education in the region and enhance the level of engagement with enterprises.

    • What are the CUA institutions offering now?

      • Institute profile

        The three institutes:
        • are in existence for 45 years – with a collective experience of 135 years in the provision of higher education,
        • have made, and continue to make a very substantial contribution to the growth of the regional economy and to supporting new business start-ups, and to improving regional education levels,
        • offer an effective, dynamic and applied learning environment; helping students to discover their strengths and potential, developing their lifelong learning skills and preparing them for varied career opportunities;
        • provide a suite of programmes that are designed in close collaboration with employers and that provide the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies such that graduates can quickly be effective in the workforce. ,
        • provide a ladder system of progression that greatly facilitates student access to higher education, through multiple entry routes, whereby students can enter and leave the formal learning environment as suits their individual career paths and personal circumstances.

        Student Profile
        • in 2015, 53% of students entering CUA institutions did not come directly from a Leaving Certificate class,
        • many new entrants are over 23 years of age (23% in 2013/14) and have experience of the workplace prior to coming to higher education,
        • there is an emphasis on small class sizes and a relatively high level of student supports provided by lecturers, IT Services, library facilities, and by learning support staff,
        • on average 64% of CUA students are in receipt of state grants. This compares with the 2013/14 national average of 45%,
        • many graduates of IoTs are 1st generation third level qualification holders.

        Regional Engagement and Contribution
        • the IoTs play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through the provision of bespoke education programmes, contract research and technology transfer,
        • the Innovation Centres located at the heart of four of the campuses support regional entrepreneurs, nurture new start-ups and fledgling enterprises and assist established businesses to develop and expand,
        • the multiplier economic impact scores of the income generated by LYIT, GMIT and IT Sligo are 4.25, 4.09, 3.96, respectively. The impact of the combined 2013 income of the CUA, some €130m, was €520m in the region.
        • participation in many Enterprise Partnerships, EI Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative 2 and, historically, the Ignite West Programme.
        • there is strong support provided to start-up businesses through the Graduate Enterprise Programme - for example, the New Frontiers Programme commenced in 2012 , brought 28 companies to the market by 2015, employing more than 25 people in the region.
        • the HEA funded Líonra initiative has led to increased collaborative research, innovation and enterprise development,
        • bespoke programmes have been developed for business clients and agencies throughout the country and internationally, for delivery to their employees at a time and by a means that suits their work/life schedules.
        Examples of bespoke training include, flexibly-delivered training of new recruits at Abbott Diagnostics (enabling the company to double their workforce and capacity), specialist training programmes delivered for Coca Cola, Pramerica, Allstate, Sita, Masonite and Baxter which educated employees across the global business network,
        • delivering programmes to industry in collaboration with the National Institute for Biopharmaceutical Research and Training (NIBRT), the medical devices sector, First Polymer, Irish Prison Service,
        • the CUA partners provided training to 1,495 students under the Labour Force Activation and Springboard schemes in the period 2011-14 and were awarded €2.5M to pay for 580 participants across 27 programmes in 2016.

         

           
    • What are the objectives of the CUA?

      • The objective of the CUA is to work towards becoming a Technological University. Through cross-institutional collaboration, the CUA will bring coherence to the provision of higher education in the region, with a common higher education mission and vision and shared strategic objectives, and with a focus on collaboration that enhances the contribution of the three institutions/TU to the economic, social and cultural development of the region. To achieve this, the CUA has agreed a trajectory to achieve designation as a Technological University. Notwithstanding this objective, there is a clear understanding that, at some stage along the trajectory it may become apparent to one or more of the partners that this is no longer the best course of action for their Institution, at which point they may choose to exit from the CUA.

         

    • How is the CUA managed?

      • Steering Committee: Chairman (Mr Martin Cronin, Chairman, InterTradeIreland past CEO of Forfás, and past IDA Director of operations), 3 Presidents, 3 Registrars, 3 Senior Executive members, one from each of the institutions, and the CUA Project Manager.

        Operational Group: 3 Registrars and 3 Senior Executive members from the CUA partner institutions, supported by a Project Management team.

        Programme Manager: Dr Brendan McCormack, with responsibility for overseeing the preparation and submission of the Expression of Interest to the HEA, and follow-on Staged submissions.

        Data Analyst: Ms Anne-Marie McCormack, compiling a data base of statistics for the CUA against the criteria for Technological University and setting a baseline of facts about the three Institutes and the combined CUA, including on-going monitoring of the attainment of the TU criteria by the CUA.

        A set of ‘Guiding Principles’ has been agreed between the three CUA Presidents that provides a framework for engagement.

         

    • How does the CUA perform against TU criteria?

      • In general, we are already delivering to the wide range of metrics. The dashboard below provides an overview of the CUA.



      • Of the five TU criteria with specific metrics the CUA is already or nearly meeting three and achieving the other two will be key objectives in the next stage of the process.

        Reference Criterion 2013/14(HEA Returns) TU Target
        3.2a Level 9 & 10 research (% FTE L8-10) 2.4% 4%
        3.2b LLL (i.e. combined Flexible & Mature) learners 30.3% 30.0%
        4.2a FT Staff delivering HE with at least L9 qualifications* 86.9% 90.0%
        4.2b FT Staff delivering HE with L10 or equivalence in professional experience (estimated)* 31.3% 45% (incl. 10% Prof)
        4.2c Staff supervising @ L10 with L10 qualifications 92% 80%

        The CUA is also performing well against the more subjective criteria, which include:
        a) the provision of programmes across the L6 to 10 range to both full time and part time learners, many of whom are being taught via online and blended delivery
        b) significant engagement with regional employers on (i) contract research and technology transfer, (ii) the design and development of programmes in collaboration with employers to meet the workforce needs in the regional;(iii) work-based learning experiences as a formal part of the award, (iv) employer involvement in programme examining and re-validation, (v) guest lectures delivered by companies and work place site visits
        c) providing supports directly to companies through four incubation centres, with a particular emphasis on supporting new business start-ups;
        d) engagement with communities, including cross-border collaborations.

    • What are the CUA plans to achieve the TU metrics?

      • The CUA Steering Committee has identified a set of Working Groups who will explore the form and function od the new TU. and plan on how the TU metrics will be achieved in a realistic timeframe. The eight Working Groups cover Governance, Academic (i.e. Research and Innovation, Teaching and Learning, and External Engagement) and professional services (i.e. HR, Finance and Legal, IT and Facilities, Student Services and As of January 2016, two working groups have been established – WG1 – Governance and WG2 – Research and Innovation. The latter is tasked with proposing process that the CUA might use to achieve the TU metrics in regard to research - i.e. (i) research centres, (ii) research student enrolments, (iii) staff numbers with PhD qualifications and (iv) staff engagement in research. There is currently a hold up in activating the other Working Groups as the TUI have issued a directive blocking the involvement of academic staff in activities that might lead to a merging of two or more institution. It is hoped that the other six WGs will be established by the end of Quarter 3, 2016.
        In the Spring of 2016, consultation session were being held with staff and students of the institutes. These sessions outlined the ambition of the CUA to become a TU and discussed possible visions for the new TU, as well as addressing concerns about the change process. In quarter 4, 2016, consultations will be held with external stakeholders including public representatives, the business and social communities and state agencies. The feedback from these consultations and the outcomes from the working groups will inform the preparation of future submissions to the Minister for Education and Skills.

         

    • What is the CUA work plan over the next 5 years?

      • The TU re-designation process comprises four stages as follows
          Stage 1: expression of interest
          Stage 2: preparation of a plan to meet the criteria
          Stage 3: evaluation of the plan
          Stage 4: application for TU designation.

        A realistic timeline for meeting the TU criteria is 5 years. Over that period, the CUA intends to demonstrate that it has, or is progressing credibly on a trajectory to meet the criteria for a TU as stipulated in the draft Technological Universities Bill, 2015. In October 2015, the Minister for Education and Skills approved the Stage 1 application and agreed that the CUA should progress to make a Stage 2 submission. In preparation for this, the current CUA work Plan is to:
        • Scope the form and function of the new TU (i.e. Cross-institutional working groups addressing Governance and organisation, Research and Innovation, Learning, Teaching and Assessment, External Engagement, Finance, HR, IT and Student Services),
        • Engage in Collaborative projects,
        • Communication and Consultation (i.e. A structured series of internal consultations, staff conferences and Internal update communications and a series of meetings with external stakeholders including public representatives, industry, state agencies and employer representative bodies),
        • Submit a Stage 2 application,
        • Achieve the TU Criteria (which is a longer term objective that will not be completed by the time a Stage 2 submission is made).
        To support this endeavour, the HEA awarded the CUA an amount of €0.757M as a 50% contribution towards the direct costs in 2016 of the work required to complete the above tasks.
        The work plan after making a Stage 2 submission has yet to be agreed. At some time on the future each Governing Bodies will need to make a decision on how the three independent autonomous institutions will transition into a single TU.

         

    • When will TU re-designation be achieved?

      • Following from the draft Technological Universities Bill, 2015, designation as a TU will be a Ministerial decision. The current draft Bill is being considered by the Dáil Education Committee. While the 2015 version of the Bill includes the requirement that the institutes involved in a TU consortium need to merge before re-designation as a TU, this requirement may well change in a revised Bill. It is envisaged that the process for the CUA to be re-designated as a TU will take at least 5 years to achieve. In any case, when the TU is established, there will be a body of work to get the institutions operating as one organisation, with cultural, management, operational and branding objectives to be achieved.

    • Will each of the Institutes be carrying out due diligence on each other?

      • Due diligence is an investigation of one organisation by another prior to progressing to a deeper business relationship with that organisation. The partners in the CUA have been working closely together for over three years, have exchanged substantial and detailed information and have developed strong working relationships. There are common governance and management structures, common programme structure and disciplines, common enterprise development platforms and common organisational operational systems. We are therefore very familiar with our partner institutions and we do not anticipate a need for extensive due diligence on each other. However, it is proposed that we will engage the services of an external consultant to carry out a due diligence assessment of the proposed structures and governance arrangements for the new TU.

    • How will collaboration between the CUA partners develop?

      • A number of collaborative projects are underway or in progress, including:
        Initiatives targeted at moving towards TU designation:
        o     Online Delivery across the CUA
        o     CUA masters programmes
        o     International offices collaboration
        o     Joint HR ‘CORE’ processes
        o     Joint staff development
        o     New online RPL process (www.myexperience.ie).
        o     CUAL research repository and student access to all libraries (http://cual.openrepository.com/cual)
        o     CUA website and staff portal (www.cualliance.ie)
        TOR for Four Working Groups have been agreed, to address:
        (i) Governance and Organisation; (ii) Research and Innovation; (iii) Learning, Teaching and Assessment; (iv) Engagement
        Papers have been completed on vision and mission; handbook and guidance notes for working groups; risk and SWOT analyses (see list on slide 20)
        Extensive staff consultation is taking place in each institute and a programme of external consultation has commenced

        As part of the collaboration, the Alliance is also targeting improvements in quality of provision, capacity and efficiency in a number of areas, including:
        Research and Innovation
        Measures to address the research targets and income gaps will include:
        o     Key senior-level appointments.
        o     A high-level research and innovation strategy for the new TU.
        o     Academic QA processes for research qualifications in the new TU.
        o     A plan to achieve the TU research criteria for student enrolments, staff qualifications, the level of staff engagement in research and fields of research concentration.
        o     Staff development focussed on research to strengthen capacity to provide research informed level 9 and 10 graduates who will support future development of businesses in the region, increase high potential business start-ups and enhance the attractiveness of the region for FDI.

        Learning, Teaching and Assessment
        Enhancements will include:
        o     A high-level Learning, teaching and assessment strategy for the new TU.
        o     Specific strategies for international, online learning and flexible learning in the new TU.
        o     Definition of key graduate attributes to be engendered in students of the new TU.
        o     A framework for assuring the quality and integrity of LTA provision in the new TU, aligned to the TUQF QA/QE framework.
        o     Improved student access, principally through development of distance and blended learning and the attraction of greater numbers of overseas students through closely coordinated action by the CUA international offices.

        External Engagement
        Our work-plan includes:
        o     A high-level strategy for external engagement with regional Business, Enterprise and the Professions for the new TU.
        o     A framework of processes and structures for student engagement in the new TU.
        o     A plan to meet the objectives for international engagement in terms of processes and structures by the new TU, including international partnerships.
        o     Proposed processes and structures for lifelong learning provided by the new TU.
        o     Building inter-institutional partnerships for teaching and research for quality improvement, student enrolments, programme generation and enhanced student learning experiences.

        Professional Support Services
        We will develop:
        o     High-level finance, HR and IT support services strategies and plans for the new TU.
        o     A high-level student support services strategy, including for student engagement, for the new TU.
        o     Joint projects, particularly in the financial, HR, IT, international, academic areas and resource review leading to operating efficiencies and cost savings.

        Diversification of Income
        Income diversification will be pursued through:
        o     Research, innovation and knowledge exchange.
        o     International recruitment.
        o     CPD/LLL.
        o     On-line/distance learning programmes.
        o     Philanthropy

    • When will we merge? Will we merge before becoming a TU?

      • The current draft Bill is being considered by the Dáil Education Committee. While the 2015 version of the Bill includes the requirement that the institutes involved in a TU consortium need to merge before re-designation as a TU, this requirement may well change in a revised Bill.. In any case, the members of the CUA have agreed that we will not come together legally until we are on a clear trajectory to meeting the criteria and we are confident of a clear and relatively quick transition from the ‘merged’ entity into a TU, and only when there is a strong commitment by both the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA to work with us through this process.

        The indicative timeline is for each stage is
        Approval of Stage 2 Plan: December 2017
        Approval of application to merge: December 2019
        Approval for designation as a TU: December 2021


    • Would we consider requests from other IoTs wanting to join the CUA?

      • Yes, the guiding principles for the CUA state that, the partners may agree to the inclusion of additional partners in the process, where this is feasible. The CUA would consider requests from other IoTs, if they show alignment with the developing views of existing CUA partners about what type of TU it wants to be, and if appropriate consultation had taken place within that institution confirming support for the proposal to join the CUA.
        There is also a process provided in the draft 2015 TU Bill to allow an IoT to seek to join a TU, once the latter has been established from other IoTs.

    • Will we be able to withdraw from a TU process up to the final re-designation step?

      • Each partner of the CUA is, and remains an independent, autonomous, institution up until the day of designation as a merged institution by the Minister for Education and Skills. As noted elsewhere, the current draft Bill is being considered by the Dáil Education Committee and while this includes the requirement that the institutes involved in a TU consortium need to merge before re-designation as a TU, this requirement may well change in a revised Bill. As part of the guiding principles agreed between the three IoTs, each institution has the right to decide for itself about proceeding with each stage of the process. In the event that all three partners cannot agree to progress a given stage of the TU process two of the partners may agree to proceed if they consider this necessary to avoid a damaging delay to the process. The third partner will have the option of re-engaging in the process at a later date, where this is feasible. Any decision around merger legal joining of one or more of the three institutes will, in the first instance, be based on evidence of substantial achievement of the TU Criteria and will also require Governing Body approval from each institution to take that step.

    • What is the status of the TU legislation?

      • A 2015 Draft TU Bill was considered by the Dáil in Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016. However, this was not approved before the current Government called a national election for new public representatives. As of June 2016, the draft Bill is being considered by the Dáil Education Committee. Based on the outcome of these discussions, and the subsequent consideration at Dáil level, the revised Bill may be substantially different from that of the 2015 version. For example, the requirement that the institutes involved in a TU consortium need to merge before re-designation as a TU may well be change in a revised Bill.

    • What funding strategies will be in place to enable the TU to meet its on-going and anticipated commitments?

      • Designation as a technological university will provide a substantially scaled-up higher education institution. Across the CUA, there are currently some 1,500 students, 1,500 staff members, and a combined operation budget of €123m. By 2022, student numbers should be in the region of 22,000, and there will be significant revenue generating opportunities. As an entrepreneurial organisation we will position ourselves to compete successfully for international research funding and international students, to commercialise research, and to work closely with alumni to establish income generating opportunities. Independently and philanthropically generated income, together with state funding, will play a vital role in ensuring our on-going capacity to meet our financial commitments to our staff, students, and stakeholders. The Higher Education Authority (HEA) recognises that there are costs associated with becoming a TU and in June 2016 the HEA awarded the CUA an amount of €0.757M as a 50% contribution towards the direct costs in 2016 of the CUA project work.

    • What have been the costs of running the CUA to date?

      • The total expenditure by the three Institutes on this project to end 2015 will be €1.2m. This is made-up of direct funding of €0.34m to support a Project Office and estimated indirect costs of €0.8m (i.e. management time, travel and subsistence, working on specific projects and staff time involved in the preparation of the Stage 1 application). These costs have been met using funding provided under the SIDF 2013 programme (€162,000), and the additional €1M was provided by the Institutes mainly in the form of the time of senior staff members to the project.

    • What are the estimated future costs of running the CUA?

      • The total indicative budget estimate for the period covering the preparation and submission of a Stage 2 application is €4.8M (€2.6M of direct costs and €2.2M of indirect costs). Subsequently the ‘Stage 3’ process (up to the point of re-designation as a TU) is estimated to cost a further €10M.

    • In what ways will the country support the development of TU over the coming years?

      • It is too soon to answer this definitively, but we expect that it will be a mix of additional income from areas such as growth in student enrolment (i.e. Irish students, international fee paying students, and fee earning programmes),winning competitive funding to enable the reshaping of the sector in line with the current HEA/national strategy. In fact the CUA has already been award €0.757M from the Higher Education Authority to support its project work in 2016 and the HEA have committed to providing on-going financial support (on a competitive basis) to all consortia engaged in coming together to become a TU. . In the course of preparing the Stage 2 application, a more detailed financial analysis of the costs of delivering the objectives of the plan within existing resources, including the resolution of any budget deficit situations and the process of on-going maintenance of a balanced CUA budget will be carried out.

  • Relationship with NUIG

    • Is NUIG not already meeting the university-level needs of the region?
      • NUIG is an excellent HEI, performing well on the international front. The new TU intends to work in partnership with NUIG to ensure that higher education provides the full range of supports needed by students and enterprises in the region. The CUA supports NUIG in its endeavours to generate world class research and will continue to collaborate with them on research projects. In becoming a TU, the CUA does not want to replicate NUIG. The TU will differentiate itself from NUIG by the depth and range of its engagement with regional employers and industries. This will be evident by the active involvement of industry in the design, development and delivery of programmes, by the number of student and staff on work experience in regional industries and by the entrepreneurship of the graduates who go on to work in regional companies and to set up their own businesses. The TU will also provide a wide range of access routes into higher education by people from across the region to programmes of education at Levels 6 to 10 of the NFQ on a full time and part time basis. The current range of collaborations between the CUA and NUIG include:
        • West/North-West Cluster: programme pathways, student transfers, ETB progression routes
        • Joint pgms: MSc in Regulatory Affairs; MA in Translation Studies, MA in Conference Interpretation
        • Collaboration on research projects: marine and environment
        • Structured PhDs
        • TTO, IGNITEWest, Medical Academys
        By working with NUIG on these and other such projects, the CUA intends to build a common vision with NUIG for higher education in the region.

    • What will be the relationship with NUIG?

      • In 2014/15, the three IoTS engaged with NUIG through the West/North-West Regional Cluster. Related to this, a number of specific objectives were agreed through the 'Compact' performance agreements with the HEA, around improving access and progression pathways and in relation to academic planning. It is envisaged that the collaboration between the CUA and NUIG will grow into a more long-term strategic regional alliance between HEIs with the development of the technological university.
        • together, through parallel and complementary collaboration, the new TU and NUIG can make a fundamental and lasting contribution towards the growth of the region and provide a comprehensive and effective range of teaching, research, innovation and enterprise development supports,
        • the proposed TU will be a valuable contributor in a network of regional HE providers together with NUIG,
        • this regional leadership partnership of HEIs will encompass knowledge creation, technological innovation, know-how transfer, human capital creation and will lead to a convergent provision of a knowledge infrastructure platform that supports the development and innovation capacity of enterprises and business,
        • as the existing university in the region, the considerable experience of NUIG in research and in international collaboration is acknowledged by the CUA and will be accessed through collaborative projects and common strategic objectives, ,
        • the enterprise and entrepreneurial focus of the new TU will complement that of the more traditional university,
        • the strategic goal of NUIG - to work in partnership with other HEIs in the region to provide leadership in developing an expanded regional innovation strategy – will be developed through collaborative discussions with the CUA,
        • the TU will engage with Údarás na Gaeltachta and will collaborate with NUIG to ensure participation in the proposed new Coastal Marine Innovation Hub,
        • CUA partners are actively exploring opportunities for professional PhD staff training with NUIG.

    • What is the relationship between the CUA and the West-North-West Cluster?

      • The CUA is participating with the West/North-West Cluster which includes NUIG and St Angela’s College.

    • What is the Cluster doing?

      • The aim of the Cluster is to collaboratively ensure strategic programme provision across the region and to identify student pathways within and between institutions, meeting the needs of students and employers.

  • What are the implications of a TU for students?

    • What are the benefits for students and graduates of being part of a TU?

      • The TU will provide:
        • graduates with an internationally branded qualification
        • regional access to international standard higher education using flexible delivery across multiple campuses
        • enhanced academic quality for more than 20,000 students receiving learning from Llevel 6 to 10 on the NFQ
        • A fit-for-purpose structure that better reflects the diverse learning requirements of students, who enter through different education pathways,
        • graduate employment
           o     by supporting long term economic, social and cultural regional balance
           o     by fostering business relationships, networks and developmental clusters,
        • partnership with regional companies and business support agencies
           o     RDI activities that will foster and grow new sustainable businesses & communities
           o     Participation in entrepreneurial business networks and developmental clusters
        • Increased collaborations and partnerships, building an international reputation and attracting competitive funding in research and learning and teaching
           o     More opportunities for cross-border collaborative projects and funding

        Students will get:
        • A ‘university’/IoT qualification’
           o     Brand recognition
        • An enhanced range of PROGRAMMES for students
           o     Wider range of discipline areas and elective choice through access to more expertise
           o     Stronger disciplines– e.g. Environmental/Marine Science, Medical Technologies, Social Care
           o     A greater emphasis on entrepreneurship/start-your-own –business on all programmes
           o     Post graduate opportunities from all programmes
        • An enhanced range of SERVICES for students
           o     Improved access to education for more students across 8 campuses, through flexible delivery
           o     Greater diversity of students through stronger national and international marketing
           o     Wider access for those traditionally excluded from higher education
           o     International exchanges and semesters abroad
           o     Better educational facilities through increased access to funding
        • An enhanced range of CAREER OPPORTUNITIES for graduates
           o     Educational-employment agreements with businesses
           o     Contributing to attaching more start-ups and business investment into the region
           o     Work placement experience as part of more programmes

    • What level of support for re-designation as a TU is there from the student body?

      • The Student Union representatives have endorsed the Expression of Interest, through their support on the Academic Council and Governing Body of each of the institutes. This is consistent with the view of the SUs of other aspiring TUs who are lending their support for their local IoTs to be re-designated as TUs. The Student Unions consider that a TU will give students the opportunity to experience world-class universities while maintaining the ethos of the IoTs.
        That is not to say that students have concerns about what it means to them in the transition into, and being part of a TU. The CUA has been engaging in an extensive consultation process with staff, student, enterprises and employers, in preparation for a possible Stage 2 submission. Some of the questions raised at consultation sessions with students are reflected in these FAQs.

    • Will there be one main campus and will others become peripheral campuses?

      • The CUA is acutely aware of the need for ‘regional’ availability of higher education which was a central part of the original RTC/IoT concept, and this will remain a core value of the TU. There is a clear need for a number of centres of provision across the region in view of its size (which is approximately 300 km wide and 300 km long). Following consultation, ways in which each campus can best contribute to the vision and mission of the TU is being explored. As it stands, and until there is any formal agreement to change this, undergraduate courses will continue to be delivered on the campuses to which students have applied. So for example, if a student accepts a place on an LYIT course they will be attending classes on the Letterkenny or the Killybegs campus. Regardless of any future arrangements, the campus where programmes will run will always be clear to applicants at the point of application.

    • Will each Institute still have its own code on the CAO?

      • Yes, for entry into the foreseeable future applicants are to use the existing CAO code for each of the three institutions. Each institute will continue to have its own section in the CAO hand book.

    • Will CAO points for programmes of the same title be the same across the three institutions?

      • It is not anticipated that CAO points will be uniform for entry to similar programmes offered at GMIT, LYIT and IT Sligo for students applying for entry in September of any year. This is because of the differing levels of demand for programmes of the same title offered by each institute. The best guide to the points needed for entry to a specific course is the existing published points for entry to this course offered by each of the three institutions.
        CAO points reflect the number of applications to a course in a given year - i.e. the demand for a course, as well as the number of places available. Points may go up or down from one year to the next and it is not possible to predict what they will be in advance of the CAO offers.

         

    • Will small classes continue to be the norm?

      • This will depend on a range of factors. Small class sizes are found to be effective for certain students and the three Institutes have always tried to establish the appropriate balance between provision of small classes and the efficient use of resources. Currently, there are a considerable number of unknowns which make it difficult to predict class sizes in the medium to longer term. Cut-backs in funding, in staff numbers and an increase in student numbers over the last number of years has obviously had an impact on the staff-student ratio. The new TU will need to carefully consider the optimum range of programme provision, the national funding model for higher education, and the appropriate profile of the student population in the TU to best meet the needs of the West/North-West region.

    • Where will my degree award come from?

      • The three institutions of GMIT, LYIT and IT Sligo will continue to make their own awards for the foreseeable future. Today, all degrees conferred by the three institutions are conferred through powers delegated from Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI).
        These awards satisfy national and international quality assurance requirements and consequently are recognised all over the world. They will continue to be fully recognised should a merger of the three institutions take place.
        Legislation currently being developed by the Dáil and this will make provision for the making of awards by the new TU.

    • If students go to one campus can they use the facilities on the other campuses?

      • Arrangements are already in place to allow students of the three institutes to have access to all library services. Access to all student facilities on the campuses of the three institutions will be developed over the coming years.

    • How will Further Education pathways be constructed in the new organisation?

      • It is important that the technological university maintains an effective interface with Further Education (FE), as the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 noted (p. 105). The new TU will build strong liaison with regional FE colleges, including cross border providers of further education. The objective is to grow the number of students entering the TU from FE colleges. Clear and effective processes for administering Recognition of Prior Learning in occupationally-related programmes will also be necessary.

    • What proportion of Level 6, 7 & 8 will be envisaged in the TU for the West/North-West?

      • The CUA currently has 54 Level 6 (11%), 156 Level 7 (31%), 143 Level 8 (28%). In fact the three CUA institutions have the highest proportion of level 6 and level 7 students in the country, compared to other IoTs.
        One of the HEA criteria is that a TU provides education from levels 6 to 10 (including Apprenticeships). It is the intention at this stage in the TU planning that the current ladder / pathway system will be maintained and will continue to provide a point of differentiation for the TU compared with the more traditional universities in the country. Having said that, all programmes will be looked at in relation to the level of demand, as is currently done annually in each of the IoTs.

  • What are the implications of a TU for staff?

    • What are the benefits of being a staff member in the new TU?

      • • promotional opportunities and new posts, including professorships, adjunct professorship, and new senior and junior administrative grades in new priority areas for the TU,
        • institutional support to use your expertise to engag with regional enterprises,
        • institutional support to become active in, applied research and innovation,
        • a range of opportunities for professional development and progression in teaching, research, technical support and administration and management across a larger organisation with a broader remit covering the whole of the West/North-West region,
        • institutional support for collaboration with international colleagues and HEIs across the full range of academic activities.

    • What involvement have members of staff had in developing the plan to date?

      • An estimated 10% of staff contributed to date directly on the preparation of the Expression of Interest, Stage 1 submission. A CUA Steering Committee headed up the process, and drafts of the document were reviewed by the three Executive Boards, Academic Councils and Governing Bodies and other staff representative groups.
        In 2015/16, the following consultation has taken place:

        GMIT
        • January 2016: All staff (by function and across 4 campuses), SU class representatives, Governing Body and Executive Board members were consulted, using this presentation.
        • Written responses being prepared to questions raised across 15 consultation sessions
        • February 19th 2016: Presentation to Academic Council
        • Q2: feedback to staff

        LYIT
        • January 21st 2016: Meeting of Academic Council to review the comments made by the Minister for Education and Skills in her letter of approval of the Stage 1 application.
        • February-March 2016: Follow on consultation with the Executive Board and senior managers and with the Schools and other functions.

        IT Sligo
        • May-June 2015: Consultation with 13 staff groups on Vision and Graduate Profile for the proposed TU.
        • February-March 2016: Consultation with Academic Council and staff and student groups

    • What consultation is there with trade unions?
      • In 2015, all trade unions have been briefed by the management at each of the IoTs, via the Information and Consultation Fora and other spheres of engagement.
        Substantive meetings with each local trade union branch have taken place in 2016. In the case of the TUI, the engagement of academic staff in the development of the TU planning has been limited somewhat by the TUI directive issued on 23rd March 2016. The CUA is also aware of the many concerns that the TUI have raised in relation to the 2015 draft TU Bill and has developed a position paper on a number of these. . The CUA has also had discussions with national TUI representatives on how best to progress with the planning of the TU. The CUA has already, and will continue to make representation on the wording of the draft 2015 TU Bill. The CUA is committed to consultation at every stage of the process. The CUA will endeavour to negotiate at national level to ensure that the new draft TU Bill addresses any concerns raised by its members.

    • Why does the CUA need my engagement as a staff member?
      • It is important that the new institution that emerges as a Technological University is built on the best ideas available from all staff, students and graduates of the three institutions and from external stakeholders. It should; build on and expand what the IoTs currently do well; retain the heritage of the IoTs, identify the most important aspects to be retained from the current structure and processes and should seek to examine alternative and / or enhanced structures and processes. Your input and insight as to how best to do this is needed.
        Specifically, there are three Working Groups (WG) where involvement of academic staff will be required in order to develop a shared understanding of what the educational provision will look like in the new TU. These WGs fall under the following thematic areas:
        • Research and Innovation (WG2)
        • Learning and Teaching (WG3)
        • External Engagement (WG4)

    • What role will professional services staff play in the development of the new technological university?

      • The input of staff from all areas of the three institutions is vital to ensure that in designing the organisational structure of the new technological university we take account of every aspect of the staff/student experience. Ownership of the plan to create the new TU will rest with all staff across the three partner institutions and will draw on the strengths of GMIT, LYIT and IT Sligo. This is a unique opportunity to be part of the creation of a new educational institute to further enrich the student and staff experience.
        Specifically, there will be four Working Groups (WG) where involvement of professional staff will be required in order to develop a shared understanding of thatwhat these services will look like in the new TU. These WGs fall under the following thematic areas:
        • Financial and Legal Management (WG5)
        • Human Resources (WG6)
        • IT and Facilities (WG7)
        • Student Services (WG8).

    • Is my job safe?
      • The draft 2015 TU Bill (Head 12 Transfer of Staff to the Merged Institution) protects remuneration and terms and conditions of all staff, in the transition to a TU, save for where a collective agreement is negotiated with a recognised trade union (and for now it is presumed that this position will be retained in the next iteration of the TU Bill). There will be no lay-offs or forced redundancies arising out of the formation of a TU. Nonetheless, while it is anticipated that there will be roles for everybody in the foreseeable future, we cannot guarantee that your role/position will remain the same indefinitely. In fact, new and additional job/role opportunities may unfold in the future. For the next five to ten years, the current demographics indicate a significant increase in the anticipated student enrolments entering higher education. However, in bringing three institutes together, some rationalisation of programmes and sharing of services is anticipated. To say otherwise would not be truthful.

    • Will my workload change?

      • As the CUA works towards achieving its vision which includes deeper engagement with the region there may be some rebalancing of workloads to allow staff the time to carry out this work. Overall, teaching of students will continue to be the core activity of the CUA/TU. No member of staff will be expected to work more than is normally required under the terms of their contract, For academic staff, the balance between teaching, research and external engagement may change following negotiation. Similarly for non-academic jobs, the balance of work tasks or areas of work may change following negotiation.

    • Will I be relocated to a different campus?

      • In general staff will not be relocated to a different campus from where they are currently based. It is likely that some individuals will choose to relocate, either seeking to work closer to home or choosing to undertake a role that has been relocated. Beyond that, until the final scope of academic provision and services on each campus is determined, it is not possible to be more definitive.

    • Will any organisational change occur before the three institutes are re-designated as a TU, and if not, when?

      • A number of thematic working groups are in the process of being established. The output of these groups, together with input from the senior leadership teams from the three institutions, will be a set of guiding principles and processes which will inform the organisational structure for the technological university.
        Meanwhile, the existing management and reporting structures of the three institutions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, subject to the normal existing internal management planning processes. At a later date, there may be a requirement for an agreed interim management framework to ensure that strategic decisions on topics such as resource allocation, staffing models etc. can be made and that the transition into a single entity is effectively managed. The principal challenge is to complete preparatory work to an extent that, in the first instance, a strong Stage 2 application can be made and that subsequently allows decision-making to be completed both before and after the three institutions come together and are re-designated as a TU. In any case, no such change will take place without the agreement of the three Governing Bodies, following consultation with the Trade Unions and staff.

    • What are the proposed changes envisaged in the “new contract”?

      • At present no new contracts are being discussed. This is not to say that in the medium term proposals may not emanate from the Department of Education & Skills in response to changes in the tertiary education landscape precipitated by socio-economic circumstances and other policy considerations. At this stage it is not anticipated that any future discussions of a contractual nature will be separated from the high level objectives set out in the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030 and the draft TU Bill currently under discussion in the Dáil. As we move through the re-designation process, further discussions with the trade unions will take place through the Information and Consultation Fora.
        Regarding any changes in staff contracts during the transition to a TU, the most up to date wording is that in the draft 2015 TU Bill (sections 63 and 64) which states:
        63 (1) Every person who, immediately before the designated day—
            (a) was a member of the staff of the dissolved body shall, on the designated day, become and be a member of the staff of the merged institute, and
           (b) was a fixed-term employee of the dissolved body shall, on the designated day, become and be a fixed-term employee of the merged institute for the duration of his or her contract of employment.
        63 (2) Except in accordance with a collective agreement negotiated with a recognised trade union or staff association concerned, a person referred to in subsection (1) shall not, on the designated day, be brought to less beneficial conditions of remuneration than the conditions of remuneration to which he or she was subject immediately before the designated day.
        64 (1) A person referred to in section 63 who, immediately before the designated day, was a member of the relevant superannuation scheme or the Single Public Service Pension Scheme shall, on the designated day, continue to be a member of such scheme in accordance with its terms and conditions.

        Regarding staff appointments, terms and conditions and remunerations, the situation is the same as currently exists in the IoTs, as stated in the draft 2015 TU Bill:

        Draft 2015 TU Bill – section 27 IoT Act (2006)
        (1) A technological university may, subject to the approval of An tÚdarás given with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, appoint such and so many persons to be members of staff of the technological university as it from time to time considers appropriate. Amendment 13 to RTC Act : 11A.—(1) (a): A college may appoint such and so many persons to be members of the staff of the college (in addition to the Director) as, subject to the approval of An tU´ dara´s given with the concurrence of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, the governing body from time to time thinks proper
        (2) The staff of a technological university shall be employed on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the technological university, subject to the approval of An tÚdarás given with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, from time to time determines. RTC Act : 11(2): Subject to section 12 of this Act, an officer (including the Director) or servant of a college shall hold office or employment on such terms and conditions as the college, subject to the approval of the Minister given with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, may from time to time determine.
        (3) There shall be paid by a technological university to its staff such remuneration, fees, allowances and expenses as may be approved from time to time by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Amendment 12 to RTC Act : 11(2): Subject to section 12, there shall be paid by a college to its staff, such remuneration, fees, allowances and expenses as may be approved from time to time by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance.


    • How will existing contractual duties change to reflect the requirement to increase postgraduate research students?

      • Changes, if any, to existing contractual duties will only arise following the normal, existing process of consultation, engagement and negotiation, where appropriate, with a recognised trade union. Notwithstanding the national context within which academic contracts are negotiated, the list of duties associated with the work of an academic is extensive, and includes research. In this context any legitimate variation in such duties is a matter of discussion and assignment by the institute in consultation with the individual academic, and representative body where and when necessary.

    • Will the issue of “break in service” apply to staff of GMIT, LYIT and IT Sligo?

      • The draft 2015 TU Bill prescribes a seamless continuation of service if and when the three Institutions are re-designated as a TU.

    • What are the Level 9 and 10 targets in relation to staff qualifications?

      • The targets were originally set by the HEA and are published in the draft Technological Universities Bill, 2015
        According to the criteria (and acknowledging that the Bill is currently being re-drafted by the Dáil Educational Committee), at the time we apply for TU re-designation 90% of the full-time academic staff of the three institutions engaged in the provision of a programme that leads to an award to at least honours bachelor degree level will hold a Level 9 qualification or higher. At least 45% per cent will hold a doctoral degree or equivalence in professional experience, combined with a terminal degree appropriate to their profession. This also includes contract research staff. The proportion of such staff holding equivalence in professional experience shall not exceed 10%. The definition of what constitutes professional experience equivalent to a Level 9 or 10 academic qualification is as yet unclear.
        In relation to research activities, it is not sufficient that staff simply hold Level 10 qualification or equivalence in professional experience, we also need to demonstrate sustained activity in relevant areas of research and development in the fields of knowledge/study in which doctoral level training and research is on-going. The proportion of staff holding Level 10 qualifications who are engaged in Level 10 supervision must be in excess of 80%. As a general principle, only those with Level 10 qualifications will be engaged in the delivery and supervision of Level 9 programmes. Only those with Level 10 qualifications and with a sustained record of research publications and mission-appropriate research outputs will be engaged in the delivery and supervision of Level 10 programmes.
        So, in submitting a Stage 2 plan the CUA will need to provide demonstrable evidence of a developmental trajectory of building towards these criteria.

    • How are staff being facilitated to attain Level 9 and Level 10 qualifications in order to reach the TU criteria?

      • Each institution has local arrangements already in place to support staff members in attaining appropriate qualifications and across the CUA there are in excess of 50 staff registered on PhD programmes. The Research and Innovation Working Group (WG2) is considering a research action plan to identify particular governance, management structures, and funding provision to support staff in attaining qualifications at Levels 9 and 10. In addition, the CUA Steering Group has considered a proposal, which has been brought to the Senior Leadership/Management Team of each institution, to offer staff the opportunity to registered in the NUIG structured PhD programme and a number of staff have signed up for this.

    • Will the emphasis on research activity be comparable to other universities?

      • In comparison to more traditional universities, it is envisaged that the TU for the West/North-West will grow its level of research activity over that of the current three IoTs, with a strong emphasis on development and innovation (RDI) as it applies to the growth of regional enterprises. In this regard, the CUA recognises the work of the four Innovation Centres (in providing direct support for start-up businesses) as contributing to its performance indicator for RDI. The CUA also recognises that much of the thesis work of student and staff conducted in collaboration with regional businesses represents a substantial contribution of intellectual property and knowledge transfer to the growth of these companies, although, for reasons if commercial sensitivity, some of this work cannot be published in academic journals that are recognised for the purposes of calculating academic research metrics.
        Notwithstanding this focus on industry-led research, academic research will continue to be benchmarked against the best standards available nationally and globally because these indicators will impact on the ability of the technological university to attract high quality faculty and postgraduate students. The collateral benefit of this approach will directly impact on the research funding income and will support quality and innovation in our taught programmes as well as allowing the TU to deliver the objectives set out for a TU in the draft YU Bill in respect of the engagement with regional businesses, employers and professional organisations.

    • Will there be two tiers of academic created: educators and researchers?

      • The role of educator and researcher is an equal and binary one. Therefore, all academic staff, and indeed professional services staff, will be able to contribute meaningfully to the life of the technological university according to need, ability, and capacity, and to pursue new opportunities that will inevitably be present in a technological university in many areas not limited to teaching and learning, research, enterprise and engagement.

    • How will researcher numbers be increased in a sustainable manner?

      • The CUA Steering Group will approve a growth plan for PhD student enrolments that will enable us to meet the TU criteria targets in a sustainable manner. The plan will range over a number of discipline areas, and will be guided in consultation with the existing nine approved research centres across the three institutions. In June 2016 the CUA received €0.757 of funding support for its activities in 2016. A large proportion of this funding is being directed at supporting research students, research centres and staff engaged in research studies and supervision and management. The intention is that this will drive the research metrics to achieve the TU criteria for research.

    • How will the matter of progression from AL to L grades be handled across the three institutions?

      • As a unitary organisation, processes and procedures regarding academic staff moving from AL to L scales will be handled in a consistent manner, following negotiation in the normal manner with the TUI.

    • Will the model of online/blended learning be the norm?

      • The CUA recognises the role that the institution’s educational philosophy, culture and ethos as well as the experience of its students and staff can make in supporting a distinct approach to curriculum design and delivery. Any decision to use an online teaching approach for a particular programme will be based on sound pedagogical reasons and will be made by the programme board for that programme. There is significant experience in this decision making process and in the delivery of programmes online at IT Sligo and with certain programmes in GMIT and LYIT.
        As a wider consideration, it is anticipated that the false divide that currently exists between full and part-time students will be dissolved and an emphasis placed on flexible delivery to accommodate the needs of all students. On-line delivery of programmes and services will be an aspect of this. This is consistent with the objective of increasing accessibility to higher education from communities across the large geographical CU region and it will prepare students for the world of work, including preparing them to work in virtual environments. Of course, in the normal way staff training on new delivery techniques will be provided if it is decided to introduce online delivery to a specific programme, and the necessary services and facilities put in place to support the online delivery.

    • How much flexibility exists in the current contract to accommodate requirements of teaching, research, and engagement?

      • Flexibility currently exists in the lecturing contract for individuals to engage in teach and research, and to work on external engagement projects. Any variance within the terms of the contract may only be conducted where such a requirement is necessitated and following consultation with the individual academic and representative body.

    • What happens to staff members who are currently engaged in activities that may be duplicated in a merged organisation?

      • In line with national agreements Government has given a commitment that compulsory redundancy will not apply within the Public Service, notwithstanding that existing exit provisions apply. In planning for a TU, the CUA Steering Committee will, in consultation with staff representatives and Governing Bodies, be making proposals for the new organisational structure. This may identify some areas of duplication of roles. In that case there will be a plan for staff to be re-deployed within the new TU. Any such staff members affected by this will not be made redundant. Any such changes will be discussed and negotiated with the staff member and, if required, there will be opportunities for re-skilling and re-training in preparation for the new role within the TU.

    • What will the staff-student ratio be in the new organisation?

      • Ratios across programmes will vary as determined by the type of learning in which students are engaged. Nonetheless, it is expected that ratios will continue to be determined by HEA funding mechanisms, best teaching and learning approaches, as well as health, safety, and welfare considerations.

    • How will the new Academic Council be constituted?

      • To the best of our understanding, as specified in the draft 2015 TU Bill, a TU will have a single Academic Council. The general terms related to the function and operation of the Academic Council are specified in section 28 of the draft 2015 TU Bill, although this may change flowing the deliberations of the Dáil Education Committee on the Bill. The thematic working group on governance (WG1) will give consideration to formulating design principles to enable the new Academic Council to conduct its business within an overall governance structure.

    • Will there be a reduction in the number of programmes?

      • The overarching objective regarding programme provision is to collaborate across the CUA to provide a comprehensive range of programmes that are accessible by students from across a rural dispersed geographical region, whose graduates are in demand by regional enterprises or who are capable of setting up their own businesses. As such, there are no plans to ‘rationalise’ or cut the number of programmes across the CUA.
        It is already the normal practice of the three partner institutions that programme provision changes annually, with programmes being phased out and/or replaced with new programmes to meet the changing needs of business and society. There are no step-changes planned in programme provision as part of the TU. Our current practice of providing programmes that ensure that graduates will be employment-ready will continue, and of developing programmes in response to the expressed needs of employers. Indeed, it is envisaged that the creation of the TU will result in greater access by students to a wider range of programmes provided across the region, allied to enhanced opportunities to transfer and progress between campuses. We remain committed to ensuring local access across a range of programmes.
        Overall the Technological University will enhance educational opportunities for students in the region and will continue to use blended and online learning to facilitate access by a greater number of participants.

    • Where will the TU headquarters be located?

      • As the TU structure has not yet been agreed there have been no discussions on headquarters or services and functions or the extent to which each of these might be centralised or dispersed. A clearer idea of this will emerge following a period of consultation.

    • How can I get information about the current status and plans for the TU of the West/North-West?

      • A web-site has been developed (www.cualliance.ie) which provides greater detail about the development of the new TU for the West/North-West. This includes background information on the work of the CUA Steering Committee, the Stage 1 Expression of Interest and other relevant documents. As the consultation process develops, additional summaries of meetings, findings and reports will be added. There is also an online query form that will allow you to put your questions and concerns to the Steering Committee.

  • Glossary of Terms and Acronyms


    • CUA - Connacht-Ulster Alliance

      CU Region - Refers to the region including the counties of Connacht and Ulster within the Republic of Ireland – Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway.

      Expression of Interest (EoI) - This is the required ‘Stage 1’ submission for any consortium seeking approval from the Minister for Education and Skills to progress through the 4-Stage process of re-designation as a TU. The CUA submitted an EoI to the Minister for Education and Skills in March 2015 and received Ministerial approval in October 2015.

      Formal Education - Covers the regular education and training system where courses are
      • of a predetermined purpose and format,
      • provided in the system of schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions,
      • normally constitute a continuous ladder of education,
      • structured in terms of learning objectives, learning time and learning support,
      • normally intended to lead to a certification/qualification recognised by national authorities qualifying for a specific education/programme).

      HEA - Higher Education Authority

      Hunt Report - A reference to the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030

      Informal Learning - Includes learning that is not organised or structured in terms of purpose, time or instruction (e.g. language skills acquired during a stay abroad).

      Landscape document - Refers to the document produced by the HEA in 2013 outlining the form and function of the higher education landscape in Ireland and the processes related to the establishment of Technological Universities and HE Clusters.

      Lifelong learning - As defined by Eurostat includes ‘all purposeful learning activity, whether formal, non-formal or informal, undertaken on an on-going basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence’.

      National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 - The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 was announced in January 2011. This sets out a new vision for higher education in Ireland. In 2030 the decades ahead, higher education will play a central role in making Ireland a country recognised for innovation, competitive enterprise and continuing academic excellence; an attractive place to live and work with a quality of life, cultural vibrancy and inclusive social structures. At its heart, however, it will still be about people and higher education institutions will have a strong engagement with individual students, communities, society and enterprise; will give students a sense of Irish place and identity; and will equip them with the skills to play a strong part on the world stage, while they will be the source of new ideas through excellent research.

      Non-formal Education - Refers to all organised learning activities outside regular or formal education. The student normally has to register for each learning activity. Non-formal education includes:
      • participating in a course or a seminar to acquire/improve skills, knowledge and competence; courses can be aimed at improving job-related knowledge or enhancing skills for social and personal purposes,
      • both courses leading to certificates and courses not leading to certificates,
      • grinds, music lessons, night classes, art courses, piano lessons, letter writing, using the internet, courses in Tai Chi, driving lessons, etc.

      QQI - Quality and Qualifications Ireland

      TU - Technological University

      TU Bill - Refers to the Bill that went through the houses of the oireachtas in Spring 2016, before the national elections took place. As of 1st June 2016, the Bill is now being brought back to the Select Committee on Education and Skills.

      West-North/West - Refers to the region including the counties of Connacht and Ulster within the Republic of Ireland.


A repository of other material as well as a discussion forum is available on the CUA staff portal which can be accessed by staff members of the CUA institutions.