The Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA), comprised of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Institute of Technology Sligo (ITS), and Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), has been awarded €2.8m funding under the new Higher Education Innovation and Transformation Fund to develop new flexible learning options in the west and northwest.
The Minister for Education & Skills Joe McHugh announced the funding for the ‘Innovative Opportunities Transforming Education (iNOTE) Project’ at a reception in LYIT recently (8 Feb) attended by the presidents of the three institutes, staff and invited guests.
Minister McHugh said: “It is a real privilege to be able to share news like this – €2.84 million in Government funding over the next three years to reward and support LYIT, and their close colleagues in IT Sligo and GMIT, as top class academic staff chase innovative ideas to attract more people to third level education and do more to create flexible options for learning in the north-west.”
“LYIT is taking the lead on this project and it is heartening to see a college in Donegal driving this initiative and being rewarded for that. The Government has recognised we need to do more to open up third level education and now we are backing that cause by providing millions in funding for the right initiatives.”
The CUA alliance is committed to the creation of a Technological University (TU), via a network of geographically dispersed campuses, in the west and north-west of Ireland. The iNOTE project aligns with, and will form a direct response to, the key system objectives for the Higher Education System 2018 -2020 in meeting criteria to become a TU.
Dr Seán Duffy, LYIT CUA Project Manager and iNOTE Project Lead, says: “We are delighted to have been awarded funding for this important initiative working with our colleagues in the CUA institutes. Between now and 2029, the Irish HE sector will be required to accommodate a projected 20% increase in the student population. The majority of ‘new’ learners are predicted to be mature, lifelong learners. Offering a flexible education proposition, via enhanced digital capabilities, is regarded as being the optimum solution to meet this demand.”
The iNOTE project objectives will be achieved via the completion of five work packages focusing on:
(i) developing a quality assurance policy for flexible delivery, (ii) building digital capabilities amongst CUA staff; (iii) developing a range of digitally enhanced student supports for those undertaking programmes through flexible delivery, (iv) developing and delivering work based programmes (WBP) utilising digital capabilities for flexible delivery and (v) mainstreaming, disseminating and evaluating CUA digital capabilities for flexible delivery. This project, delivered by the Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA), will have impact across the higher education system by implementing new methods of delivering digitally enhanced learning through shared approaches.”
Dr Michael Hannon, deputising President of GMIT, says: “The timing of this project aligns perfectly with our new Strategic Plan where the priority focus is on deeper engagement with industry and offering support programmes that address industry needs on a flexible and blended delivery model.”
For further information about the Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA) see: www.cualliance.ie