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South East Technological University is the only university in the south east region of Ireland. 

The south east with a population of over 580,000, is comprised of the counties of Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford. The largest urban centre and regional capital is Waterford city (with a population of c.60,000) but the region is distinguished by a network of large key towns, Carlow (population c.27,000), Kilkenny (population c.27,000) and Wexford (c.20,000). SETU has a presence across all these locations. 

Under Ireland’s National Development Plan, the south east region is expected to grow in population to approximately 800,000 by 2040. This population growth, and the planned investment from the State (including in higher education) to support this growth, is consistent with Ireland’s policy to drive balanced growth across Ireland’s regions.

The regional economy

The regional economy has grown very strongly in recent decades with strong economic clusters in Life Sciences, Financial Services, ICT, Agriculture and Food, and Engineering. Development strategy across the region focusses heavily on knowledge-driven, high-value employment in these areas. Global brands and market leaders in all these sectors have located in the region. The south east was the winner for the FDI Strategy for Small Regions in the European Cities and Regions of the Future 2023.

SETU’s innovation has been central to economic growth in the region to date, especially since the turn of the century; the further enhancement of SETU’s innovation activity has been identified as critical to the region’s ambitious growth plans. 

A great place to live

The region is known for its high quality of life and Waterford was voted Ireland’s best place to live by the Irish Times in 2021. Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and the region’s Viking beginnings and Norman past is evident across all of the major towns.

The region has many tourist and natural attractions including the Blackstairs and Comeragh mountains and popular beaches in Curracloe and Tramore amongst 13 blue flag beaches along the coast, as well as fishing villages like Kilmore Quay and Dunmore East. The region’s river network flowing through the major towns also forms a popular amenity. The region has a network of blueways, greenways, cycle tracks and walking routes.

The region is known as the “Sunny South East” and has approximately two hours extra daylight per day than more northerly regions and 75 days less rain than other regions.

The region is a highly affordable city region with house prices in general 20% lower than the national average, and childcare costs in the south east over 50% cheaper than in Dublin.

Arts and culture

The region has a thriving arts and cultural scene and major arts centres like the Wexford Opera House and the Visual Centre in Carlow. The region hosts a number of major international festivals including the Wexford Opera Festival, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas, and many others. Waterford city’s Museum of Treasures (located in the city’s museum quarter, the only one in Ireland) is an internationally renowned attraction.

The region is known for the high quality of its food and also hosts a number of food-related festivals as well as having many prize-winning restaurants and hotels.

SETU is a key anchor of the region

As the only university in the region, SETU’s further success is central to a thriving south east, the University is clearly a regional anchor. The University is one of the region’s largest employers and is by far the leading institution when it comes to the recruitment of regional students. In particular, the University, in further developing its innovation and research capability, will add momentum to the region’s drive to be identified as Ireland’s innovation capital.