Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite new technological universities in view of the fact that our intake of skilled ICT workers from overseas will increase from 700 to 1,900 in 2013.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn:
As you are aware, I endorsed the framework for system development laid out in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 which outlines a developmental pathway towards designation as a Technological University for merged institutes of technology who seek to apply. The implementation process of this is well underway.
The Landscape document published in February 2012 lays out a clear four stage process and criteria for institutes of technology who wish to apply for designation as a technological university. The process for designation is designed to ensure educational quality, objectivity, international expertise, fairness and transparency. The first stage requires institutes of technology to submit a formal expression of interest in merging and seeking designation. The Higher Education Authority are considering proposals and their advice on system configuration later this year will include their advice on the progress of institutes of technology interested in seeking designation to the second stage of the designation process.
As part of the plan earlier this month I announced the roll out more than 760 places under the second phase of the graduate skills conversion programme. The places, which are available on 15 programmes in public and private higher education institutions around the country, are targeted at graduate jobseekers who want to acquire honours degree level programming skills for employment opportunities in ICT. These new places are in addition to the more than 700 places that were rolled out under the first phase of the programme in 2012. The majority of 2012 participants are now completing work placements and will be graduating over the next few months.
The Plan has helped to raise awareness of employment opportunities in ICT and there was an increase of 20% in CAO first preference applications and an increase of 10% in acceptances for level 8 Computing courses in 2012. There was also an increase of 35% in the numbers of students taking higher level maths in the Leaving Certificate following the introduction of bonus points in 2012.
Other actions provided from in the Plan are also underway including the establishment in January 2012 of a high level Academic Industry Foresight Group, chaired by the Chair of the HEA and with strong industry high level industry membership.