The first annual Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) Colloquium in GMIT was opened today by Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor.
The day brought together students, agencies, enterprises, further education, policy makers, and the voluntary sector.
Speaking at the Colloquium, Dr Joseph Ryan, Chief Executive of THEA, said: “THEA is now one year in operation and it has been a dynamic time with many changes culminating in the passing into law of the Technological Universities Act 2018 which offers the promise of the creation of new Technological Universities in Ireland.
“These can have a profound and catalytic role in support of their regions and communities.
“As a sector, our members have already demonstrated the impact that an Institute of Technology can have on the lives of the community it serves and on the sustainability and enhancement of the local economy.
“We are delighted to have a range of experienced speakers here today, from industry, politics and academia, with various perspectives who will share in a reflection on the contribution of the technological sector and help us shape how that can best be calibrated to meet future challenges.”
Speaking at the event, Dr Fergal Barry, President of GMIT, said: “We are delighted to host the first annual Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) Colloquium here in GMIT today (10th of May).
“GMIT and the students and region we serve has been a major beneficiary of the reforms within higher education since our founding nearly 50 years ago.
“Our vision is to provide students with a transformative university experience, empowering our graduates to fully contribute to the social, economic and cultural betterment of society.
“We aim to invest in excellent applied learning, teaching and research environments reflecting the real needs of business, enterprise and the professions in our region.
“I want to welcome again the investments of €5M in GMIT’s iHub and €25M in a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Building.
“GMIT student enrolements have increased considerably in recent years to over 7000 enrolements.
“The ongoing reform of our Higher Education Sector led by Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, particularly the passing of the Technological Universities Act, will allow TU Consortia to deepen our engagement with industry and organisations for the people we serve across the region for many years into the future.”
Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “Today’s Colloquium firmly positions the technological higher education sector as the champion of access, opportunity and engagement, forging links across diverse communities, geographies and socio-economic boundaries.
“Government’s commitment to and support of the sector was evidenced by the announcement of the €200m capital funding earlier in the year and it points to an exciting future for the sector as we look towards the establishment of the first technological universities.
“We look forward to continuing our engagement with THEA in civic dialogue around the transformative effect that higher education and engaged institutions have on entire communities.”