Demand from CAO applicants for places in the newly-established Munster Technological University has surged, according to the university's president, Professor Maggie Cusack.

She was speaking at a ceremony where the MTU flag was raised for the first time.

The ceremony took place simultaneously across MTU's six campuses: Bishopstown in Cork; Tralee, north and south, in Kerry; and at the Crawford College of Art and Design; Cork School of Music; and the National Maritime College, all in Cork city and county.

Munster Technological University was created through an amalgamation of all six.

MTU has more than 18,000 students across the six campuses. It offers more than 140 courses and programmes of study.

Prof Cusack described the establishment of Munster Technological University as an unqualified success. She said applicants seeking places on honours degree courses as their first preference had risen by 16% - almost twice the national average - since the MTU was established.

Applications for degree courses from people expressing MTU as their first preference to study have increased by four per cent.

Total research expenditure at Munster Technological University last year was more than €22m which, Prof Cusack said, was the highest expenditure achieved across Ireland's technological universities and institutes of technology.

Prof Cusack said MTU would act as an anchor for development of the south-west region.

"MTU will play a leadership role in the strategic development of the southwest region and, in so doing, will adopt a global outlook and a civic-centric value system," she said. "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."

The ceremony at Bishopstown in Cork was presided over by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Higher and Further Education Minister Simon Harris, while Minister for Education Norma Foley presided over the ceremony at MTU Tralee's North Campus.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath were guests at the ceremony in Bishopstown.

Micheál Martin said he expected the establishment of MTU will be transformative for the southwest region.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was at the Bishopstown campus

"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," Mr Martin said.

"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 in Ireland if we are to achieve the ground-up community engagement required to succeed in a sustainable manner".

The flag-raising ceremony was to have taken place on New Year's Day last, but was postponed to today to allow all guests to attend in person.

Minister Harris described the ceremony as a celebration of a successful first year for MTU.

"This new technological university is increasing higher education access, boosting regional development, and increasing opportunities for students, staff, businesses, and local communities," he said.

"MTU has taken its rightful place in the higher education landscape, benefiting students right across the region."

In Tralee, Minister for Education Norma Foley said MTU will continue a tradition of providing excellence in education.

"The formation of the Munster Technological University is a very positive step for the joint communities of Cork and Kerry and is a huge boost for education within the south-west region," said said.

MTU is the first new university to be established in the southwest since 1845.