Institutes of Technology (ITs) are further and higher education colleges. There are currently seven 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. Five have succeeded: TU Dublin (Website¦Wikipedia) came into existence on 1 January 2019, the result of a merger between IT Blanchardstown (Wikipedia), Dublin IT (Wikipedia) and IT Tallaght (Wikipedia);on 1 January 2021, Cork IT (Wikipedia) and IT Tralee (Wikipedia) merged and become Munster TU (Website¦Wikipedia); on 1 October 2021, Athlone IT (Wikipedia) and Limerick IT (Wikipedia) merged and became TU Shannon: Midlands and Midwest (Website¦Wikipedia); on 1 April 2022, Galway-Mayo IT (Wikipedia), IT Sligo (Wikipedia) and Letterkenny IT (Wikipedia) merged and became Atlantic TU (Website¦Wikipedia); and on 1 May 2022, IT Carlow (Wikipedia) and Waterford IT (Wikipedia) merged and became South East TU (Website¦Wikipedia). See Technological Universities.
The two remaining ITs are:
- Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology (Website¦Wikipedia)
- Dundalk Institute of Technology (Website¦Wikipedia)
Overall management is similar to that of universities, each IT having a Director, a Registrar, a Governing Council and an Academic Council. The main pieces of legislation applicable to ITs are:
- Regional Technical Colleges Act, 1992
- Regional Technical Colleges (Amendment) Act, 1994
- Regional Technical Colleges (Amendment) Act, 1999
- Institutes of Technology Act, 2006
- Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012
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 of them, as well as the various technological universities expected to result from mergers between ITs.