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The Technological Higher Education Association welcomes the publication, by the Department of Education and Skills of the Report of the Technological University Research Network

Posted on: 06 Nov 2019

The Technological Higher Education Association welcomes the publication, by the Department of Education and Skills of the Report of the Technological University Research Network

THEA has worked collaboratively with Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, the Higher Education Authority, the Department of Education and the higher education institutions in the crafting of the Report of the Technological Higher education Research Network and welcome the publication, which outlines the key priorities, defining characteristics, and objectives of the new technological higher education sector.

In his address this morning, Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO of THEA stated: “TU Dublin and other institutions with TU ambition are located right across the country. With the welcome decision by Athlone and Limerick to work towards application we now have an emerging Technological University sector that has a footprint in every region. The recent publication of the HEA socio-economic and spatial profiles of higher education institutions (https://hea.ie/2019/10/21/higher-education-spatial-socio-economic-profile-2017-18-enrolments-published/) clearly shows that student profiles in these technological higher education institutions are most closely representative of the social profile of the national population. That proposes two key takeaway reflections. Frist Technological Universities and the work of the TURN group will bring the highest quality education and training at university standard to within easy travelling distance to anywhere in the country. No longer are universities confined to urban centres. This means that university entry will be a universal prospect for all who desire to take that path. This is hugely significant with respect to spatial planning and regional sustainability.

“For prospective students, they will note that as our institutions most accurately reflect the social profiles of their region, this removes barriers and has profoundly positive implications for access and for social cohesion. That in turn will have a significance way beyond the narrow focus of achieving higher education landscape reform. It also attests to the fact that for such a small country, Ireland has sponsored a marvellously complex and differentiated higher education system with multiple overlaps and interconnections. We should treasure and protect this diversity as it serves learners and society very well and attracts considerable interest from abroad.

“Engagements between institutions and their representative organisations on the one side and the Department an Authority on the other, are often portrayed as necessarily adversarial. On occasion and in a healthy democracy, they need to be. But we live on a small island, and in a closely interconnected system. If we learned anything from the Cassells process, it is that higher education is advised to speak clearly and with one voice. The TURN is significant in that higher education institutions, along with their representative organisation, the Authority the Department and the Minister as champion have worked collaboratively on this and consistently within a defined policy context. This is a powerful combination and the results are there to see. It is shared work with one overarching goal and that is to serve our students, our communities, our regions and our many stakeholders, of which enterprise is one. Our collaborative work has served to inform a budgetary submission and not only that but to codify in an agreed fashion the character, and potential of a technological university in a manner that can be socialised with key policy influencers and stakeholders.”

The full text of the TURN report can be downloaded here


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