New Atlantic Technological University will deliver €700m to Ireland’s economy per year


  • Just over 3,100 jobs will be supported by the Atlantic Technological University (TU) per year.
  • The Atlantic TU will improve the educational offering and skills base of the Northern and Western Region
  • Just under 10 per cent of third level students in Ireland will be enrolled in the Atlantic TU

New research from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) has confirmed the major contribution that the new Atlantic TU 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, as the Higher Education Institutes that will become the Atlantic TU have since contributed more to the Irish economy – in terms of operating expenditure and staff wages – with this economic impact expected to rise 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 Northern and Western 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 university to delivering balanced regional development in Ireland.

Commenting, John Daly, Economist of the NWRA, 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-valued 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 Northern and Western Region’s skills base – as the 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 and 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 Northern and Western Region according to Daly. Recently, the European Commission announced that the Northern and Western Region’s GDP – as a % of the EU Average – was 71% as per the latest figures as of 2020, which was 34 percentage points lower than its previous peak of 105% in 2006 and was down 17 percentage points on the region’s performance in 2010.

Furthermore, the European Commission also found that the Northern and Western Region is now 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 with the NWRA said:

“Recent GDP figures paint a bleak picture for the Northern and Western Region and show why the Atlantic TU is so important for the region. 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 Northern and Western Region 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 Northern and Western Region’s third level infrastructure representing a significant challenge over the past decade.

This is evident from the fact that between 2011 and 2021, the Higher Education Institutes that are located in the Northern and Western Region – on average – received general capital funding of €243 per undergraduate enrolled, which was below the corresponding national ratio of €333.


Download the ATU Economic Impact Study


Correction on the County Incomes and Regional GDP 2019 published by CSO on the 16th of February 2022. According to the CSO, the GVA/GDP results reported by the CSO for the West region (2017 – 2019) have been revised upwards by between €2bn and €4bn in each of these three years.  There have also been smaller revisions to the prior years back to 2013.  In addition, the 2020 projections for the West and Midlands regions have been increased.  These revisions are largely explained by the CSO’s initial incorrect allocation to the East region of data related to large foreign-owned Multi-National Enterprises with production sites in the West region.  There have been corresponding reductions in the results for the East region with no overall change in the National GVA/GDP results. Therefore, it should be noted that the CSO GDP figures presented in this article and briefing note are outdated – since the CSO’s revision occurred after its publication – and they do not reflect the above updates from the CSO. GVA / GDP results that take into account these updates can be found in the CSO’s “County Incomes and Regional GDP” publication or on the Eurostat website