IT Sligo is forming part of the new Technological University for the North West
New research from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) has confirmed the major contribution that the new Atlantic Technological University (ATU) will make to Ireland’s economy, with the university expected to contribute €700 million in economic output and support just over 3,100 jobs per year.
Such an economic impact represents an improvement on previous estimates, in terms of operating expenditure and staff wages. It is also expected that the value of the new TU to the economy will rise significantly in the coming years.
The NWRA has found that every €1 of expenditure by the new Atlantic TU is likely to result in an overall increase of nearly €4 in output to the Irish economy, highlighting how future investment in the university represents value for money to the exchequer.
Furthermore, the Atlantic TU will contribute to around 3% of the region’s economy while just under 10% of third-level students in Ireland will be in enrolled in the Atlantic TU, highlighting the importance of the TU to delivering balanced regional development in Ireland.
Commenting, John Daly, Economist at the NWRA and author of the research, said: “The designation of the Atlantic TU represents far more than a name change. It will support the recovery of the Northern and Western region’s economy, by improving productivity levels, expanding the region’s ability to develop innovative products and services and supporting the creation of high-value jobs.
“The designation will also deliver much wider benefits to the region. For example, the new TU will improve the quality of third-level teaching in the Northern and Western region of Ireland, as the Atlantic TU will be required by legislation to ensure that at least 90% of full-time academic staff hold a Level 9 Qualification or higher. Likewise, at least 45% of full-time academic staff will be legally required to hold a Level 10 Qualification or the equivalence in professional experience, with the university required to increase this ratio from 45% to 65% in 10 years.
“The new TU will also enhance the regions skills base – as the new university will have to ensure that at least 4% of full-time students are awarded a Masters degree – while such a designation will improve the ability of the Northern & Western region to attract private and public research funding through economies of scale and collaboration.”
The designation of the Atlantic TU could not come at a more important time for the regional economy according to Daly. Recently the European Commission found that the Northern & Western region is the only region in Ireland to be considered a “Moderate Innovator”, which is a region with a innovation index score between 70% and 100% of the EU average. In contrast, the Southern and Eastern and Midland Regions of Ireland have been classified as "Strong Innovators", which are regions to record an innovation index score between 100% and 125% of the EU average.
Commenting, David Minton, Director of the NWRA said: “Recent GDP figures paint a bleak picture for this region of Ireland and show why the Atlantic TU is so important. Human capital – in the form of knowledge, skills and experience – and innovation are key components in enhancing the performance of a region’s economy.
“The Atlantic TU will be key to unlocking the region’s potential in these areas, given the new university will enhance region’s skills base and innovation capacity, improve the ability of the region’s ecosystem to collaborate on product and service development and boost the region’s competitiveness and exports capabilities.
“Within this context, it is clear that the Atlantic TU will be crucial in delivering collaborative actions that will overcome the economic challenges facing the North & West of Ireland and improving the performance of the region’s economy in the coming years.”
Daly added that designation in itself will not be enough to fully deliver these benefits and additional funding will be needed, with long-term underinvestment in the West and North West’s third-level infrastructure representing a significant challenge over the past decade.
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