President of MTU Professor Maggie Cusack; Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris; An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and President of MTU Student Union Aisling O’Mahony at the inaugural raising of the MTU flag to mark the official opening of Munster Technological University. Photos: Darragh Kane

University plants its flags

The President of Munster Technical University (MTU) has already hailed the new university as an unqualified success.

This week saw the first raising of the MTU flag, on its six campuses across the south west, representing “a new dawn for higher education in the country,” according to Professor Maggie Cusack.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, and Education Minister Norma Foley presided over the inaugural raising of the MTU flag on Monday in Cork and Tralee.

Professor Cusack said that demand from CAO applicants has surged, with first-preference honours degree applications for MTU courses rising by more than 16 per cent, almost twice the national average, while first-preference degree application levels increased by almost four per cent.

In addition, she said that the KTI Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey 2020 indicated that total research expenditure in MTU exceeded €22m, the highest total achieved across Ireland’s technological universities and institutes of technology.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “At a time when the world is facing major challenges in areas such as climate change and Covid-19, the importance of higher education has never been greater. We will need to maximise our ability to produce talented and responsible graduates who can lead, innovate, create, inspire, and transform.

“We will need these graduates in every village, town, city, and region if we are to achieve the ground up community engagement required to succeed in a sustainable manner. The development of technological universities is a key development in this context, and the establishment of MTU will prove to be transformative for the south west region.”

Minister Harris added: “This new technological university is increasing higher education access, boosting regional development, and increasing opportunities for students, staff, businesses, and local communities. MTU has taken its rightful place in the higher education landscape, benefiting students right across the region.”

The Taoiseach added that “most people would say that the forerunners to this college, the institutes of technology, the regional technical colleges were actually central to inward investment in this region, particularly the life sciences, biopharma, bio tech.”

He added that companies in the region “all speak very highly of the quality of graduates who came out of these colleges over the decades”.

Professor Cusack continued: “MTU will play a leadership role in the strategic development of the south west region, and, in so doing, will adopt a global outlook and a civic-centric value system. MTU will anchor the development of the south west region, while participating fully on both the national, and international, stages. We will play a central and strategic role in ensuring that there are fantastic opportunities for all to achieve their full potential in education, in life, and in their careers.”

MTU has a student enrolment of more than 18,000 across six campuses and offers more than 140 programmes of study. Originally planned for 1 January 2021, the flag raising was deferred until such time as MTU’s key stakeholders would be available to participate in person. MTU is the first new university to be established in the south west since 1845.