Four Dublin-based education institutes have recently been in talks with the idea of merging together in order to form a united technological university body.
The colleges partaking in the initiative include Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Institute of Technology, Tallaght (ITT), Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) and Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown (ITB).
The four colleges have held several meetings regarding the change and remain optimistic that they will form the first technological university in the state, especially in the wake of the recently released Hunt Report on third-level education, which ruled out the prospect of any new traditional universities being opened in the state in the near future.
A number of meetings have already been held between the four bodies involved and although there is no timeframe being put to the proposals, it is hoped progress will be made soon, in the immediate aftermath of the Hunt Report.
The new team of colleges believe that the initiative will mark a new era in for Irish university education: “We envisage that what will emerge will be a civic and technological university with a nationally unique profile that will constitute a significant addition to Irish higher education.”
The initiative also seeks to abolish the idea that IT colleges have strayed from their purpose of aiding industries, and as such the new institution hopes to be “complementing and collaborating with the traditional university sector”.
Should the plans come into fruition, the scheme aims to reduce college costs and fees by means of a centralised administration setup along with other services and human resources common to all merged institutes.
The colleges involved said last week that their purpose must be “closely related to labour market skill needs with a particular focus on programmes in science, engineering and technology and including an emphasis on workplace learning”.
The idea of third-level institutes merging has become commonplace recently. Other colleges intending to follow suit in the near future include Cork Institute of Technology and Waterford Institute of Technology as well as Limerick Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Tipperary. Additionally, institutions may begin affiliating with universities, such as seen in the recent agreement between UCD and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), which was negotiated in the later months of 2010.