Athlone Institute of Technology welcomed Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor to its multi-award-winning campus today, 16th December 2019, to launch its ambitious Strategic Plan – A Technological University for the Region
The five thematic areas set out in the plan, which encompass Learner Experience, Educational Provision, Research and Innovation, Engagement, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, will guide the institute’s next phase of evolution as it undergoes the transition to becoming Ireland’s next technological university.
Commending the Midlands-based third level, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said Athlone Institute of Technology had “built a reputation for excellence in higher education” and always put its students at the heart of its thinking.
The aim of every higher education institution is to empower and inspire its students and imbue them with the necessary skills, knowledge and creativity to contribute to society, she said, adding that Athlone Institute of Technology is a “shining light” in the technological higher education sector.
Its many successes, she noted, include being named Ireland’s number one institute of technology for 2020 and 2018, and topping the list for student satisfaction nationally in the Irish Survey of Student Engagement for six consecutive years.
The Minister also congratulated the institute on its recent decision to partner with Limerick Institute of Technology to form a technological university - something she said has the potential to be “transformative for the Midlands and Mid-west regions.”
President of Athlone Institute of Technology, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin said that Athlone Institute of Technology, as the sole higher education institute servicing the Midlands, plays a pivotal role in educating and upskilling the people in the region, and explained why achieving TU designation is so important.
“We aim to be a contemporary and engaged technological university distinguished by outstanding learner experience, international focus, and impactful and applied research. We want to positively disrupt future ways of living, learning and working, to build new partnerships that strengthen innovation and create new and exciting opportunities for our communities,” he said.
“Our ambition for our institute and indeed our region has pushed us over the past few decades to grown stronger, collaborate better, and innovate further, ensuring that we reaching our full potential for the benefit of our students, our staff and the wider community and region we live in.”
Following the launch of Athlone Institute of Technology’s Strategic Plan, Minister Mitchell O’Connor announced that Athlone Institute of Technology will receive €1.4 million to create a further 76 places in the college in 2020 and 2021.
The additional opportunities for students are being created thanks to Government investment of €24 million in the second round of funding under the Human Capital Initiative.
The new university and college places have been awarded to 22 higher education institutions following a competitive call for the expansion of existing courses in key skills areas.
The places are provided following applications under Pillar Two of the Human Capital Initiative, a key part of the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland strategy and its focus on enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent.
Third level institutions have been backed by Government to address key areas which have been identified as high priority enterprise skills needs such as science, engineering, ICT and professional construction.
For each extra place that is provided on target courses, higher education institutions will be allocated €2,500 in additional funding
The Human Capital Initiative and Government investment of more than €24 million at work – creating more and better opportunities for students on courses that help to answer challenges of the future.
“At this time of year, when our Leaving Certificate students are deciding which courses to select for their CAO applications I am delighted to be able to announce almost 3,000 additional places on 138 courses over the next two years.
“This generation will cope with more complex problems than any before them. Our students deserve the widest choice and the best opportunities to help prepare them for the future.
“I am determined that we will continue to develop our programmes and work with enterprise to ensure that our graduates are among the best prepared and equipped to meet our future challenges,” Minister Mitchell O’Connor added.
Athlone Institute of Technology is a vibrant, contemporary institution distinguished by academic excellence in teaching, learning and research. The institute has enjoyed considerable success in recent years, most notably being awarded The Sunday Times ‘Institute of Technology of the Year 2020, 2018 and Runner-Up in 2017. The institute also tops Ireland’s official league table for research and has been listed in U-Multirank’s ‘Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research’ in 2018 and 2019. Athlone Institute of Technology has ranked number one for student satisfaction nationally for six consecutive years, according to the Irish Survey of Student Engagement which looks at how happy students are with their degree and overall student experience.