Members of the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Regional Assembly have pledged their full backing to the proposed establishment of a Technological University in the BMW Region.
The proposal, to merge the Institutes of Technology at Athlone, Dundalk, Galway-Mayo, Letterkenny and Sligo would see the Border Midlands West Technological University become the largest higher education institution in Ireland with more than 27,000 students.
The endorsement of the plan by the Regional Assembly followed a detailed presentation by Professor Ciarán O’Catháin, President of Athlone Institute of Technology, at a meeting in Ballaghaderreen on Friday. He outlined the benefits that the proposed technological university would have in terms of cost efficiencies and meeting the region’s higher education and workforce skills needs. Prof O’Catháin also emphasised the potential for greater collaboration in the provision of applied research and technology transfer services to the wider business community, whilst also enabling greater opportunities for specialisation by each of the campuses.
Prof O’Catháin concluded by stating that what was is being proposed isin the best long-term interest of the BMW Region. He also called for region-wide buy-in by key public and private sector stakeholders and urged a collective regional response in support of this major initiative.
Speaking following the meeting Mr. Gerry Finn, Director of the BMW Regional Assembly stated that the proposal was a major step forward for the BMW Region and stressed the vital role of higher education in stimulating regional economic development. Mr. Finn highlighted that the potential of the region’s third level institutions was stressed in the Assembly’s recent major policy report, An Audit of the Innovation System in the BMW Region, and that this proposal for a technological university met a range of recommendations outlined in the report. He added that the BMW Regional Assembly, a member of Líonra – the Regional Higher Education Network, has supported collaboration among the Institutes and NUI Galway over many years.