Ireland’s new technology education sector
New Universities of Technology were created as part of the reforms set out in Ireland’s National Higher Education Strategy and subsequently legislated under the Universities of Technology Act.
Released in 2011, the National Higher Education Strategy 2030 recommended significant reform of the Irish higher education sector, including the consolidation of Institutes of Technology to create merged institutions.
Five Universities of Technology are the result of this consolidation which involves 12 of Ireland’s 14 Institutes of Technology. The two remaining institutes of technology, Dundalk IT and IADT Dún Laoghaire, are expected to achieve TU status in due course.
The five new technological universities are:
Dublin University of Technology (TU Dublin): Established in January 2019, TU Dublin was the first technology university to be created as a result of the merger of DIT, IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght.
Munster University of Technology (MTU): Created in January 2021, MTU was created following the merger of Cork IT and IT Tralee.
Shannon University of Technology (YOU S): Created in October 2021 following the merger of Athlone and Limerick ITs.
Atlantic Technological University (UTA): Established in April 2022, ATU was created as a result of the merger of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
Southeastern Technological University (SE YOU): To be created in May 2022 following the merger of the Waterford Institute of Technology and the Carlow Institute of Technology.
So Ireland will have five fully established tech universities by the start of the new 2022 academic year, but why should you choose to study at one of these institutions?
1. Technological by name, technological by nature: Technological universities focus on career-oriented science and technology programs. The courses range from biomedical engineering to ICT, engineering and construction and many more. While not replacing traditional universities, some courses also expand into areas not traditionally associated with technology, such as human nutrition, law, nursing, and business.
2. Access: Technological universities are supposed to meet the social and economic needs of their region and provide access to all students who can benefit from higher education. Part of the idea behind the merger is that students should have access to college in all parts of the country. They are also required to pay particular attention to those who do not have a family tradition of participation in higher education. Technological universities have also had access to funding to build student accommodation to deal with the student housing crisis. UTs will also be more appealing to international students who may not have been aware of what the institutes of technology had to offer.
3. Selection of qualifications: The supply of qualified graduates is a key part of any successful economy and Universities of Technology offer a range of qualifications from apprenticeships, diplomas, professional accreditations to masters and doctorates. Students graduating from a UT will do so with college degrees.
4. Vocational training: Practical career-oriented courses are often considered in other countries to have the same status as those traditionally offered by third-tier colleges. Students often have a career path in mind from the outset, and as such, tech universities can be an attractive option not only for school leavers, but also for late developers or mature students looking to upskill. or train for a new career.
5. Practical learning: Hands-on learning enhances student engagement and information retention. It usually combines theory and practice and can be more interactive than attending large lectures and writing essays often associated with the traditional approach taken by universities. Many technology and science-based programs take a hands-on approach, and students may find the learning experience more engaging when they actively participate in class.
6. Industrial partnerships: Technology universities work closely with local and regional businesses to develop partnerships, industry-focused research, and programs that provide students with valuable exposure to industry before starting their careers.
7. Trained staff: To qualify as a university of technology, each institution had to meet detailed eligibility criteria set out in legislation. At least 90% of full-time academic staff engaged in the delivery of a degree program at the honors and higher level must hold a master’s or doctoral degree, and at least 45% must hold a a Ph.D. qualification. Each institution is required to have a plan demonstrating that it would have the capacity to increase the number of qualified personnel at the doctoral level by 45-65% in 10 years.
8. Cooperation and services: Merging multiple institutes of technology means that each technological university will have access to the full range of support that the larger institution can offer. This will allow better collaboration between academics but also access for students to services ranging from libraries to sports facilities.
9 trades: Technology graduates tend to be hired quickly after graduation, and because qualifications are often specialized, starting salaries can be higher on the salary scale than in many other disciplines.
There are plenty of options and plenty of courses to consider in almost every field of study. Students considering their options before the OAC’s change of mind deadline should visit university websites and inquire about each course. Convenience is also important and students would be advised to find out if TU offers on-campus accommodation. Most institutions of higher education organize open days on campus which allow prospective students to get a better idea of the place.