BackgroundThe Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA) was established by the three Institutes of Technology of Galway, Letterkenny and Sligo in July 2012, through the signing of a formal MoU. This was approved by each Governing Body with the support of each Academic Council. A set of ‘Guiding Principles’ has also been agreed between the three Presidents that provides a framework for engagement. The CUA made a Stage 1 submission in March 2015, for re-designation as a Technological University (TU) and received the approval of the Minister for Education and Skills in October 2015 to proceed to Stage 2 of the process. In June 2016, the HEA awarded €0.757 million to the CUA as a 50% contribution of the direct costs incurred in 2016 as the CUA works towards becoming a TU.
Since their establishing in the early 1970s, 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 continuous change to meet the future needs of the region. In becoming a TU, the ambition is to enhance the services and programmes provided to students, widen the access from the dispersed population across the region, and to deepen the regional embeddedness and the level of engagement with enterprises.
AmbitionIt is envisioned that the Connacht-Ulster TU will be a leader and stabilising factor in the communities it serves as the key producer of work ready graduates in collaboration with employers, a key partner and driver of research and innovation, a key attractor of investment to the region and a key partner in the retention of such investment. It will be a driver of change, the key national leader in blended education encompassing traditional methods of delivery coupled with state of the art online and distance learning, a provider of education to more mature learners, a nexus of continuous professional development and the leading centre for life-long learning.
Structure and OperationGovernance and management structures for the CUA established to date include a Steering Committee (Chairman –Martin Cronin, Chairman, InterTradeIreland, 3 Presidents, 3 Registrars and 3 Senior Executive members) and an Operational Group (3 Registrars and 3 Senior Executive members), supported by a Project Management team.
The steering committee has been meeting monthly since 2012. Operational Plans have been developed to map and achieve the TU criteria and other strategic collaborative objectives. The operational objectives focus on building relationships and establishing a process for working on collaborative projects.
As part of the Stage 2 process, the CUA is engaging in consultation with staff and students and with external stakeholders, including public representatives, state agencies, and employers and sectoral representative bodies.