New legislation has recently been announced that will allow institutes of technology to apply for university status. Education Minister, Ruairi Quinn, said that the prospect of new universities is now a reality and described it as an exciting time for higher education.
1989, when DCU and University of Limerick obtained university status, was the last time there were new universities. The Technological Universities bill, the heads of which have been published by the minister, will allow for the unification of institutes and the establishment of technological universities in the future.
Under the legislation, technological universities will be new, education and research focused, higher education institutions. The minister said that the merging of institutes of technology will allow them to compete internationally against other similar institutions.
Dublin Institute of Technology, The Institute of Technology, Tallaght and the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown are considering combing to form a technological university as is Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee. Carlow Institute of Technology and Waterford Institute of Technology have also expressed an interest. The Connacht- Ulster Alliance, comprised of Galway-Mayo IT, Sligo IT and Letterkenny IT, are also considering tightening their existing alliance by combining sometime in the future.
Mr. Quinn said that each of the three groups who have expressed an immediate interest will have to measure up to the standards set out in order to become a technological university and will be judged individually.