Ennis and surrounding areas will reap huge benefits when it becomes a university town, possibly as early as next September, a Clare TD has said.

Deputy Carey was speaking as it emerged that the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) – Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) consortium has formally submitted its Technological University application to the Government.

The local Fine Gael TD said: “This is fantastic news for Ennis and indeed the whole region. Massive congratulations are due to the President of LIT, Dr Vincent Cunnane, and Athlone IT Authorities in joining forces to make this significant application. The potential created by LIT and Clare County Council working together to establish a campus in Bindon Street has already paying dividends and this application paves the way for much more to come.

“The creation of a new Technological University for the Midlands and Mid-West has the potential to be hugely transformative. Ennis, in particular, will enjoy many economic and quality of life benefits that comes with being a university town.

“Aside from the student population, university towns tend to enjoy a lower cost of living and offer a greater variety of low-cost services and greater cultural opportunities for the people living in them.”

Deputy Carey said the LIT-AIT consortium is the third application to be made under TU legislation by a consortium of Institutes of Technology who are seeking to make the step-up to a new type of higher education institution.

On October 7 Higher Education Minister Simon Harris announced the first tranche of funding under a new Transformation Fund overseen and administered by the Higher Education Authority to assist the creation and development of technological universities.

The Athlone and Limerick Institutes of Technology consortium was allocated €5 million under this tranche, bringing to €7 million in total the Exchequer funding provided to date to progress their proposals. The Government has committed to providing total Exchequer funding of €90 million under the Fund in the period to 2023.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “The creation and development of a network of TUs nationally is a strong commitment in the Programme for Government. These new types of higher education institutions are key drivers of a wide range of national strategic policy objectives relating to higher education access, skills retention and creation, research capacity building and research led teaching and learning excellence, regional development and socio-economic progress.”

“We wish to ensure that the benefits of higher education and regional development are spread equitably across the country and that everyone can avail of the high quality provision that TUs deliver for students, staff, employers, enterprise and for the wider local and regional communities they are embedded in,” he added.

PHOTO: Deputy Joe Carey with David Cahill, LIT, outside the LIT Building on Bindon Street, Ennis.