Institutes of technology in Ireland

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An Institute of Technology or IT is a type of higher education college found in the Republic of Ireland. There are a total of fourteen colleges that use the title of Institute of Technology, which were created from the late 1960s and were formerly known as Regional Technical Colleges. The exception to this was Dublin Institute of Technology which emerged independently of the Regional College system.


The idea of the institutions was first announced by Patrick Hillery in 1963.[1] A year later, a site for an institution in Carlow was identified.[2]

The Investment in Education (1962) and Training of Technicians in Ireland (1964) reports greatly accelerated the trend in Ireland for education reform and development particularly in technical education, similar to that in other Western countries at the time.

The Training of Technicians in Ireland (1964) report identified significant skills gaps, including:[3]

a further serious difficulty in the task of raising the standards of technicians in Ireland is the lack of a nationally recognised technician diploma. The absence of such a diploma deters many parents from considering sub-professional technician careers for their children

The Steering Committee on Technical Education, also called The Mulcahy Report (1967), was an important milestone in framing the institutional structures and functions calling for:[4]

we believe that the long-term function of the colleges will be to educate for trade and industry over a broad spectrum of occupations ranging from craft to professional, notably in engineering and science but also in commercial, linguistic and other specialities. They will, however, be more immediately concerned with providing courses aimed at filling gaps in the industrial manpower structure, particularly in the technician area
we do not foresee any final fixed pattern of courses in the colleges. If they are to make their most effective contribution to the needs of society and the economy, they must be capable of continuing adaptation to social, economic and technological changes. Initiative at local and national levels will largely determine how far this vital characteristic is developed. We are concerned that the progress of these colleges should not be deterred by any artificial limitation of either the scope or the level of their educational achievements

The building programme commenced in 1968, with the first institutions formally opened their doors in 1970, and other colleges were added during the following decade. Some colleges developed from earlier institutions and colleges, involving amalgamation, but most were completely new institutions. A Regional Technical College for Limerick was cancelled after a National Institute for Higher Education was announced for the city. Finally, in 1993, CoACT (College of Art, Commerce and Technology) became Limerick RTC. Two additional institutions were created since then, bringing the total to thirteen, before the amalgamation of three into Ireland's first Technological University, TU Dublin, reducing the total to eleven.[5]

Name Abbreviation First Established Technological University (including proposed)[6] Year amalgamated into TU
Athlone Institute of Technology AIT 1970 TUS: Midlands Midwest 2021
Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown ITB 2000 TU Dublin 2019
Institute of Technology, Carlow ITC 1970 TUSEI
Cork Institute of Technology CIT 1974 MTU 2021
Dublin Institute of Technology DIT 1887 TU Dublin 2019
Dundalk Institute of Technology DkIT 1970
Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology IADT 1997
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology GMIT 1972 CUA
Letterkenny Institute of Technology LYIT 1971 CUA
Limerick Institute of Technology* LIT 1852 TUS: Midlands Midwest 2021
Institute of Technology, Sligo ITS 1970 CUA
Institute of Technology, Tallaght ITT Dublin 1992 TU Dublin 2019
Institute of Technology, Tralee IT Tralee 1977 MTU 2021
Waterford Institute of Technology WIT 1970 TUSEI

†With the constituent Colleges originally established in 1887, Dublin Institute of Technology was reestablished in 1992. It was the first third level college to be called an Institute of Technology and was created under separate legislation with different powers than the other thirteen colleges. This includes the awarding of its own degrees up to doctorate level.

*LIT traces its roots back to the 1852 foundation of the School of Ornamental Art on Leamy Street. For much of the history of the institute, it was constituted as the Municipal Technical Institute, before becoming the Limerick College of Art, Commerce and Technology (Limerick CoACT) in 1980, a Regional Technical College in 1993 and an Institute of Technology in 1997.


The institutions were run under Section 21 (2) of the Vocational Education Acts from 1970 until 1992 as special subcommittees of the Vocational Education Committees, and placed on an independent basis thereafter by the Regional Technical Colleges Acts in 1993. In the late 1990s, all of the institutions were upgraded to Institute of Technology status. This was in recognition of the high standards, including university level research, which takes place at them. The institutes are governed by the Institutes of Technology Acts 1992 to 2006. Having been given delegated authority to confer their own awards in some cases up to Doctoral level by HETAC from 2001 onwards, in 2019 the institutes were designated as awarding bodies up to masters level in their own right.


The individual institutions are structured similar to other universities, particularly Irish ones. Each institution has a Director, who is the chief operational officer of the institution, usually assisted by an ad-hoc senior management team; a Registrar, who is the chief academic officer of the institution; a Governing Council, which oversees operational affairs; an Academic Council, which oversees academic affairs. Each academic school has a Head of School and each academic department of a school has a Head of Department.


The institutions traditional courses were National Certificate and National Diploma type courses particularly in business, engineering and science, this was very much the founding principle. During the late 1970s degrees at Bachelor's level were introduced, later Master's and Doctoral levels were also allowed. In recent years there has been a rapid expansion in apprenticeship and nursing type courses.


Traditionally awards were conferred by the National Council for Educational Awards, this statutory authority became the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, and other awards are conferred by the Further Education and Training Awards Council. Some specialised courses, such as accountancy, are validated by professional bodies but these are nearly always the exception.

Technological Universities[edit]

Operating from January 2019, TU Dublin is the result of a merger of the three Institutes of Technology in the County Dublin area.[5][7][8] Its foundation was announced in July 2018.[7]

In January 2021, IT Tralee merged with Cork IT to become Munster Technological University.[9][10][11][12] A formal application for the T.U. for the south west, Munster Technological University, comprising Cork IT and IT Tralee, was lodged in February 2019,[13][7][14][15] but it was initially unsuccessful.[16] A second, successful, application was made in 2020.[17]

A consortium between Athlone IT and Limerick IT (ALTU)[18] was announced in October 2019, with a view to forming a TU for the mid-west and midlands regions, centred on the River Shannon.[19][20][21][22][23] Athlone IT had investigated the possibility of becoming a university in its own right.[24] A formal application for TU status was made by the consortium in November 2020, with approval granted in May 2021.[25][26] Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, and opened in October 2021, with campuses distributed amongst Limerick City, Athlone, Clonmel, Ennis, and Thurles.[27]

The Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA) would unite institutions in the north west - Galway-Mayo IT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT.[7][14][13][28][29][18] The CUA submitted a formal application to the Department of Further and Higher Education in May 2021.[30] Formal approval was granted by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris in October 2021,[31] with a launch date in early 2022.

IT Carlow and Waterford IT have been planning a joint application for the formation of a TU, TUSE, for the south east region since the mid-2010s.[32][33] A vision document, "Technological University for the South East" (TUSE) was published in 2015, and a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2017.[34] At the launch of TU Dublin in July 2018, the Taoiseach expressed regret that this TUSE bid had not progressed sufficiently following the "Technological Universities Act 2018".[7][35] Staff of IT Carlow, rejected the current plan for the TU in June 2019.[36] A formal application was made in May 2021.[37][38][39]

In May 2021, Dundalk Institute of Technology announced plans to join an existing TU.[40] It had previously investigated the possibility of becoming a TU in its own right.[41]


  1. ^ O'Buachalla, S. (1988). Education Policy in Twentieth Century Ireland, Wolfhound Press, Dublin
  2. ^ Mulcahy, D.G. (1981). Curriculum and Policy in Irish Post Primary Education, Institute of Public Administration, Dublin
  3. ^ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris
  4. ^ Steering Committee on Technical Education, Report to the Minister for Education
  5. ^ a b "TU Dublin now Ireland's largest institution as ITs merge". RTÉ.ie. 1 January 2019. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019.
  6. ^ "New Technological Universities will be created under the reforms set out in Ireland's National Strategy for Higher Education". Higher Education Authority.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Announcement by An Taoiseach". Dublin Institute of Technology. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018 – via
  8. ^ "Application for designation as Ireland's first Technological University has been successful!". Dublin Institute of Technology. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018 – via
  9. ^ Burke, Elaine (18 January 2021). "Munster Technological University to lead €7m project to monitor air pollution". Silicon Republic.
  10. ^ Graham, Breda. "Second university announced for Cork with green light given to CIT and IT Tralee consortium". Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  11. ^ Casey, Jess (26 May 2020). "New technological university for Munster this week as greenlight expected for IT merger". Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  12. ^ Roche, Barry (26 May 2020). "Taoiseach confirms creation of new Munster Technological University". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  13. ^ a b Marren, Aisling (12 October 2018). "HEA Invests €800,000 in Four Institutes of Technology". The University Times. Trinity College Dublin. Archived from the original on 12 October 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b Donnelly, Katherine (3 July 2018). "Ireland's first tech university gets official backing". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  15. ^ "CIT and IT Tralee apply to become Munster Technological University". 13 February 2019. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019.
  16. ^ O'Brien, Carl (23 July 2019). "Munster technological university bid fails to get green light". Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  17. ^ O'Brien, Carl (7 October 2019). "Cork IT will not have to take on IT Tralee debt if merged, Minister pledge". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  18. ^ a b O'Flynn, Laurie (12 January 2020). "CA0 2020: ITs gain new powers to make awards". Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  19. ^ Walsh, Fintan (15 October 2019). "Limerick Institute of Technology to form technological university consortium with Athlone IT". Archived from the original on 16 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Limerick and Athlone ITs to form Technological University". RTÉ.ie. 15 October 2019. Archived from the original on 17 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  21. ^ "LIT and AIT want to join up to create a River Shannon-linked technological university". 15 October 2019. Archived from the original on 15 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Limerick IT and Athlone IT forming consortium to develop Technological University". Archived from the original on 16 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  23. ^ Fagan, Ronan (17 October 2019). "Athlone IT to attain merited technological university status". Athlone Advertiser. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019.
  24. ^ "AIT remains committed to Technological University status". Athlone Advertiser. 10 May 2018. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018.
  25. ^ Collins, Niall (23 February 2021). response to committee question (Speech). Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science debate - Tuesday, 23 Feb 2021. Leinster House (remote meeting): Houses of the Oireachtas.
  26. ^ "Limerick IT and Athlone IT to merge to form new technological university". independent. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  27. ^ "BREAKING: Name of Limerick's new University confirmed". Limerick's Live 95.
  28. ^ "Funding announced for LYIT's Killybegs campus". 11 August 2019. Archived from the original on 11 August 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  29. ^ Kelly, Briain (28 April 2019). "GMIT launches €60 million five-year strategic plan". Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  30. ^ Harris, Simon (21 May 2021). "Simon Harris TD on Twitter". Archived from the original on 21 May 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Minister Harris announces Technological University for the West and North West". Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 28 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  32. ^ "Technological University for the South East". Waterford IT. 31 May 2013. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  33. ^ "South East Technological University moves Closer to Becoming a Reality". Waterford IT. 3 October 2013. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  34. ^ "Timeline". Technological University for the South East. 2018. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Technological Universities Act 2018". Office of the Attorney General. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  36. ^ Dalton, Eoghan; O'Brien, Carl (21 June 2019). "Plan to create technological university for southeast hits setback". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  37. ^ "Application for TUSE lodged". Munster Express. 4 May 2021.
  38. ^ Doyle, Domhnall (14 December 2020). "Minister says application to set up TUSE expected in April".
  39. ^ "Minister Harris reaffirms commitment to deliver Technological University for the South East as new regional advisory group meets". (Press release). Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  40. ^ Ryan, Olivia (1 May 2021). "DkIT outline vision to achieve Technological University status". Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  41. ^ Wall, Martin (15 November 2019). "Strike at Dundalk Institute of Technology called off". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 July 2021.

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