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 have been created since, bringing the total to thirteen.

Name Abbreviation First Established
Athlone Institute of Technology AIT 1970
Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown ITB 2000
Institute of Technology, Carlow ITC 1970
Cork Institute of Technology CIT 1974
Dublin Institute of Technology DIT 1887
Dundalk Institute of Technology DkIT 1970
Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology IADT 1997
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology GMIT 1972
Letterkenny Institute of Technology LYIT 1971
Limerick Institute of Technology LIT 1993
Institute of Technology, Sligo ITS 1970
Institute of Technology, Tallaght ITT Dublin 1992
Institute of Technology, Tralee IT Tralee 1977
Waterford Institute of Technology WIT 1970

†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.


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. Additionally institutions have been given delegated authority to confer their own awards in some cases up to Doctoral level.[5] The Regional Technical Colleges Acts still apply to all the institutions, with Dublin Institute of Technology set up under previous legislation and been quite distinct.

The Institutes of Technology Act 2006 will further amend the law with respect to the institutions.


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.


  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. ^ HETAC » Higher Education & Training Awards Council | Validation | Delegated Authority

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