Institutes of technology in Ireland
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 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:
- 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:
- 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.
|Name||Abbreviation||First Established||Technological University (including proposed)||Year amalgamated into TU|
|Athlone Institute of Technology||AIT||1970||ALTU|
|Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown||ITB||2000||TU Dublin||2019|
|Institute of Technology, Carlow||ITC||1970||TUSEI|
|Cork Institute of Technology||CIT||1974||MTU|
|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||ALTU|
|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|
|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. Additionally institutions have been given delegated authority to confer their own awards in some cases up to Doctoral level. 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.
A Technological University is the result of a political appetite to amalgamate several ITs to form a more advanced third-level institution, similar to that of Delft and other technological universities in Europe.
In January 2021, IT Tralee will merge with Cork IT to become Munster Technological University. 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, but it was initially unsuccessful. A second, successful, application was made in 2020.
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. A vision document, "Technological University for the South East" (TUSE) was published in 2015, and a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2017. 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". Staff of IT Carlow, rejected the current plan for the TU in June 2019.
The Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA) would unite institutions in the north west - Galway-Mayo IT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT. CUA plans to make a formal application for TU status in 2020.
A consortium between Athlone IT and Limerick IT (ALTU) was announced in October 2019, with a view to forming a TU for the mid-west and midlands regions, centred on the River Shannon. Athlone IT had investigated the possibility of becoming a university in its own right.
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