Institutes of Technology

Institutes of Technology (ITs) are further and higher education colleges. There are currently eleven ITs in Ireland. Despite their titles, they are not confined to studies in technology, and engage in both teaching and research in a wide range of disciplines, much of which is at university level. Their principal function is, by law, is

… to provide vocational and technical education and training for the economic, technological, scientific, commercial, industrial, social and cultural development of the State with particular reference to the region served by the college … (Regional Technical Colleges Act 1992, s 5)

These institutes were proposed in the 1960s, with the first of them opening their doors in 1970. They were originally designated as “Regional Technical Colleges” (RTCs), and the modern title of IT was conferred on each of them during the 1990s. Nearly all were new creations, though Dublin IT (established in 1978, recognised in legislation in 1992) was an amalgamation of existing colleges, some of which can trace their origins back to the 1880s.

Under the Technological Universities Act 2018, if certain criteria are satisfied, ITs may merge and the new institution will be designated a Technological University.  At present, various mergers of this kind are under negotiation. One has succeeded: Technological University Dublin (Website¦Wikipedia) came into existence on 1 January 2019, the result of a merger between Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown (Website¦Wikipedia), Dublin Institute of Technology (Website¦Wikipedia) and Institute of Technology, Tallaght (Website¦Wikipedia). See Technological Universities.

The eleven ITs are:

Overall management is similar to that of universities, each IT having a Director, a Registrar, a Governing Council and an Academic Council. ITs do not however have power to confer their own degrees: very roughly, their degree-level awards are in principle validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) (Website)  (the successor to HETAC (Website¦Wikipedia) and FETAC (Website¦Wikipedia)). However, substantial delegation of authority, to allow ITs to validate most of their own programmes, is in place.

The main pieces of legislation applicable to ITs are:

Institutes of Technology Ireland (IOTI) was an umbrella organisation for the thirteen ITs governed by the 1992 Act. In April 2017 it was superseded by the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), which included all 14, as well as the various technological universities expected to result from mergers between ITs.

Further reading: Useful Wikipedia articles are: Education in the Republic of IrelandInstitutes of technology in Ireland; Quality and Qualifications Ireland.