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Ennis on course to be a University Town by September under AIT-LIT Consortium TU application

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*Professor Vincent Cunnane speaking at the opening of LIT’s Ennis campus in December of last year. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Ennis is on course to become a university town as early as next September following confirmation that the AIT-LIT Consortium has formally submitted its Technological University application to Government.

The new Technological University for the Mid-West and Midlands is expected to comprise a student population of up to 15,000 and a staff complement of approximately 1,200 people across six campuses in Ennis, Athlone, Clonmel, two in Limerick and Thurles.

An economic impact study commissioned by the consortium has found that the combined impact of the two institutions on the Irish economy is close to €420 million euros in economic output, while they support more than 800 jobs in addition to their own staff complement.

The consortium – which formally commenced in October of 2019 – has targeted a date of September 1 next year for the new university to open, and is today (Monday) also embarking on a broad consultation process to name the new Technological University.

Academic unions in both LIT and AIT have voted overwhelmingly in favour of measures contained in the Technological University project plan.

LIT opened its Ennis campus in December last year. An approximate investment of €1m saw the refurbishment of a once vacant building on Bindon St. Clare County Council were responsible for purchasing and refurbishing the building with construction work carried out by Jada Construction.

Commenting on the application, President of LIT, Professor Vincent Cunnane said, “We are on a pathway to deliver a unique new Technological University that will cross regions and transcend geography. While this will be an institution of scale, it will retain the familiarity of local campuses across two significant regions. This enables us to act as a regional development powerhouse into the future, delivering education and research that will benefit students, educators, communities, business and industry in a strategic way”.

He previously spoke of his desire to grow the amount of students that could be catered for at the Ennis campus. Prior to COVID-19, under 100 students were based at LIT’s Ennis facility.

President of AIT, Professor Ciaran Ó Catháin said, “Becoming a TU will broaden access to higher education and create opportunities in areas that have previously been underserved with respect to apprenticeships right through to PhD”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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