JANUARY next will see the inauguration of the Munster Technological University (MTU) as a partnership between Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and IT Tralee. This will be a historic event for Cork and for the South West Region in general. For Cork, it will be the first university to be established/designated in Cork since UCC was established in 1845.
For the region it will mean two universities now in Munster as compared to six in the Greater Dublin area. The development of TUs does represent a major commitment by the State to regional development and to addressing the current national imbalance evidenced by the constant growth on the East coast and the drift out of many rural areas.
The mission of the MTU will be to continue to develop pathways to Higher Education and to profession-focused education and training but will now be able to do this with a much wider geographical reach and with six campuses across Cork and Kerry. With a combined staff complement of over two thousand staff and an established network of links with industry and business, community and cultural groups across Munster and nationally it is in a great position to play a leading role in the recovery of community and economy post-Covid.
MTU’s impact will be based on strong and active partnerships and engagement and the relevance of its programmes of teaching and research. Currently, some 60 professional/regulatory bodies are involved in the accreditation/validation of the MTU portfolio of awards. Put simply, this assures global recognition of the awards and superior levels of employability for graduates.
The many active collaborations with State and community groups assures dynamic work placement experience for students which in turn feeds back into course design and assessment. Thus , for example, Cork School of Music students play key roles in the many music and cultural events in Cork City and beyond across the year, contributing to the cultural life of the region while honing their professional skills.
Social Care students gain great experience in working with the Cork Life Centre and again bring their learnings back into their day to day coursework.
The National Maritime College of Ireland at Ringaskiddy is another unique example of academic and professional partnership as between CIT/NMCI and the Irish Naval Service, unique in that Naval Service cadets study and train on the same programmes as ‘civilian’ students bound for careers as officers or engineers in the Merchant Navy.
IT Tralee host a UNESCO Chair in Inclusive PE, Sport, Recreation and Fitness, yet another example of ensuring academic relevance, international recognition but, above all, of service to the community.
There is a uniquely collaborative active relationship between UCC and CIT, where both institutes have combined talent and resources to deliver joint awards in Biomedical Science, Architecture, Art & Design Education and , more recently, Industrial Physics. These programmes were developed to respond to identified needs in society. The skills of the Biomedical Science students are proving an invaluable resource in the on-going battle against Covid 19.
The establishment of the MTU will provide a dynamic platform for MTU and UCC to further develop this joint portfolio of programmes and improve access to these course options across the province.
The most important indicator of the success of the MTU will be its impact on the 18,000 plus students who will form the MTU student body on January 1, 2021.
The new university will build on the deserved reputation of strong student partnership, where the learning experience will be matched by high quality teaching and student support through active engagement.
The arrival of Covid 19 on these shores back in March meant a sudden and unprecedented shock to the Teaching, Learning and Assessment environment. To their great credit CIT and IT Tralee academics spared no effort in rising to the challenges posed by Covid and the student community showed corresponding resilience and application in adapting to the new situation. While this emergency continues staff and students continue to manage the delivery and assimilation of education, not just of information, ensuring that the first graduates of MTU, the Class of 2021, will attain the same heights as leaders of enterprise and community as their predecessors in CIT and IT Tralee.
When the evolution of CIT and profession focused education in Cork is tracked from the foundation of the Royal Cork Institution of 1807 through to the Cork Municipal School of Music (1878) & the Crawford Municipal School of Art (1884), to the Crawford Municipal Technical Institute (1912), the Cork Regional Technical College (1974) and Cork Institute of Technology (1997), the trajectory to a successful regionally based Munster Technological University (2021) with a European impact is assured.
MTU constitutes a new partnership for CIT on a continuing journey with new milestones , delivering enhanced access, support and engagement for the Munster community, regional SMEs and Foreign Direct Investment companies alike.