LIMERICK Institute of Technolgy has launched ambitious plans to build a new campus at Coonagh in and to expand and refurbish its current facilities at Moylish and Clare Street.
The €200m Campus 2030 Masterplan will also see the opening of an Irish Fashion Incubator in the city centre - possibly at the Opera Centre site.
The plans have been unveiled as student numbers at LIT continue to rise - putting pressure on the existing facilities.
At present LIT has a student population of around 6,000 but that is expected to rise to 8,500 during the lifetime of the masterplan.
“It is taking our existing campuses, improving them refurbishing them, expanding them as well as building the new campus at what is now the Coonagh centre and in doing that, we will create a gateway into Limerick which is going to be vastly superior to what we are looking at now,” said Dr Maria Hinfelaar, president of LIT.
The three campuses will also be renamed as Desmond (LSAD, Clare Street), Thomond (Moylish) and Ormond (Coonagh) to reflect the ancient kingdoms of Munster.
Dr Hinfelaar says, when completed, the plans will benefit the whole city.
“More students are going to be coming into the city - more people, more footfall so it is all about breathing new life into the city as well so there will be positive ripple effects throughout the local and regional economy,” she said.
Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan, who launched the Campus 2030 Masterplan says it will build on LIT’s links with communities across Limerick.
“LIT sees itself as being a centre for community activity and active learning in the years to come and I welcome that commitment. Located in three campuses across Limerick City, LIT has the capacity to become a focal point for culture, innovation and creativity throughout the City,” she said.
Jimmy Browne, secretary/financial controller at Limerick Institute of Technology says the unveiling of the plans is a major milestone for LIT.
“It’s LIT coming out of its shell. We would regard ourselves as one of the best kept secrets in Limerick, over the last number of years,” he said adding that he is confident the funds needed to implement the masterplan over the next two decades will be raised.
While, the Department of Education and Science and committed some funding towards the Masterplan, Jimmy says LIT will have to think outside the box.
“The days of the state and other agencies automatically paying for this are gone so we need to be a little bit more innovative,” he said.
Planning permission for some of the proposed works has already been secured and it is hoped that work on phase one of the Masterplan will begin early next year.
The Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, has welcomed the proposed developments.
“It is a great boost for education in the city - for students for parents and the amount of jobs that will be created during the plan is significant and I am delighted,” he said.