The Emergence of Technological Universities in Ireland

29 Aug, 2019

On Thursday, Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), invited leading figures in Higher Education to share their vision of the future of technological education in Ireland.

Irish and European Higher Education experts, policy-makers, and a range of industry and community stakeholders attended the symposium - The Emergence of Technological Universities in Ireland.

In his opening remarks, Professor David FitzPatrick, President of TU Dublin, said, “Finally, we have arrived!  After many years of discussion and debate, Technological Universities are now a part of the Irish higher education landscape and today’s discussion is about the contribution that this new kind of institution will make.”

Addressing the audience of Higher Education experts and stakeholders, Professor FitzPatrick, said, “TU Dublin is the first to launch, and already we would claim to be unique in many respects.  We are now the only University in this country that can offer students opportunities from Apprenticeship to PhD level and every level in between.  TU Dublin has the largest student body, with an intake of over 5000 students for this academic year, but also the most diverse and inclusive in socio-economic terms and in terms of students with diverse abilities, with nearly 20% of new entrants coming through specific routes such as HEAR, DARE and Access programmes.  Our academic staff and researchers engage very directly with industry, translating their work into innovative applications, products and services, and communicating their findings widely.

Continuing Professor FitzPatrick said, “As we are about to begin our first full academic year as TU Dublin, we can still claim to be a work in progress.  But, over the next ten years, we need to demonstrate the value we can add - to society, to prospective students and the wider economy.  By 2030, we will be judged by the impact we have made.  Today’s contributors – policymakers, students, industry and community stakeholders, and European counterparts – may well challenge us further, but we are ready for the challenge.”

Sustainability was high on the agenda with Dr Thomas Ekman Jørgensen (European University Association), delivering a keynote address about how Irish Technological Universities can integrate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into many of its activities from education and research to community engagement. Monika Skadborg (European Students’ Union) also spoke about how strategically smart HEIs ensure sustainability is a critical consideration in all they do.

Head of Journalism at TU Dublin, Dr Kate Shanahan, chaired a lively panel discussion about Technological Universities of Ireland with Professor David FitzPatrick (TU Dublin); Paul O’Toole (HEA); William Beausang (Department of Education and Skills); Lorna Fitzpatrick (USI) and Dr Lynn Ramsey (National Forum for Teaching and Learning).

During a segment chaired by Dr Deirdre Lillis (TU Dublin and HEA), European experts offered their advice about the strategic ambitions of Irish Technological Universities. Professor Karel Luyben (TU Delft) spoke about building a new Technological University; Professor Paul Petterson (Maladaren University) explored the topic of industry engagement, and Professor Janne Tienari (Hanken School of Economics) talked about the types of organisational structures which help Universities get the most from their people.

Professor Ellen Hazelkorn (Professor Emeritus, TU Dublin) presented the last keynote address of the day exploring regional engagement offering a range of international perspectives and experiences. Dr Sharon Feeney (TU Dublin NS HEA) chaired the final panel with industry and community stakeholders offering their perspectives about how Technological Universities can strengthen their regions. Contributors included Pierre Yimbog (TU Dublin Students’ Union), Sam McGuinness (Dublin Simon Community) and Bernie Capraro (Intel Research and Development Ireland LTD).