A technological university for the southeast has finally been given the green light.
Technological University for the Southeast Ireland (TUSEI) is to come into being in May next year - five months later than the original date first mooted.
The chairpersons of the governing bodies and the presidents of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and the Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow) made the announcement 13 months ago in a briefing note to business and other community leaders.
Both institutes applied to the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris for an order to establish the University. That application set off a series of steps, including a review by a panel of international experts and a formal decision by the Minister.
A period of time was required to prepare for the establishment day and to appoint a new president, while a joint governing body steering group will oversee the project.
Today I announce the Technological University for the South East. Exciting day for the South East & for Ireland. It will open its doors in 2022 after decades of debate. Thank you to all who got us to this point. You should be very proud. I will work closely with you on next steps
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) November 2, 2021
On Tuesday, Mr Harris announced the technological university will be established during in the 2021/2022 academic year.
He said the announcement, which has been campaigned for by regional groups for almost 30 years, was a really exciting day for higher education in the southeast region.
"After years of debate, the establishment of this new technological university will become a reality next year, and the southeast can look forward to it increasing higher education access, driving enhanced regional development and increasing opportunities for students, staff, business and enterprise, and local communities across Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford," Mr Harris said.
"We will continue to invest in this new university with new campuses in Wexford and Waterford. The footprint of this TU will be felt right across the region. Students graduating in the current academic year will be the first to do so in the region with locally sourced university qualifications," he added.
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) will now seek to finalise remaining operational elements in line with the advice of the advisory panel in preparation for establishment next year.
Pressure for the delivery of the new technological university mounted after the merger of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and IT Tralee secured the creation of Munster Technology University.
Welcoming the announcement, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: "This is really excellent news for the southeast. It will make it easier for the IDA to secure foreign direct investment for the region and is sure to become an incubator for new Irish businesses which will become major employers in their own right.
“The University of Limerick (UL) had a transformative effect on the city and Midwest region - I believe the same can happen now in Waterford and the southeast.”
The headquarters of the new university are still to be officially announced, but indications suggest the old site of Waterford Crystal, located beside WIT on the Cork Road, is being seriously considered.