By John Patrick Kierans
DIT could have university status before the end of 2018 after President Michael D Higgins signed the Technological Universities Act 2018 into law last month.
The law will see DIT merged with the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) and the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT) to create Ireland’s first Technological University, which has been described as a “new era” for higher education.
Professor Tom Collins, chair of the Joint Governing Bodies Strategy Steering Group, said: “Significant hard work and commitment since 2011 across our three Dublin institutions has helped us to arrive at this point.
“Now that the requisite legislation has been passed, we are in the strong position of being able to make the final, compelling case to become Ireland’s first technological university (TU).
“The new TU framework in Ireland provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the national education system in a way that reflects the educational demands and economic needs of Ireland in the twenty-first century.
“We are hopeful now that the extensive preparatory work that we have undertaken to ensure we meet the criteria for technological university designation will result in a successful application.”
Professor Brian Norton, President of DIT, said: “This is an exciting milestone that now paves the way for us to take the final step towards application for designation as a Technological University here in Dublin.
“We have been laying the groundwork for some time in this respect and we believe that a successful application for TU designation will be transformative in terms of the overall social, cultural and economic impact in the Greater Dublin Region and for the international competitiveness of higher education in Ireland.”
The TU4Dublin project, which originated with the publication of the Hunt Report, began in 2011 when DIT, ITB and ITT signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Technological University for Dublin Alliance.
Since then the three members of the Alliance have collaborated to develop a programme of partnership with the objective of seeking TU designation.
Work is now well advanced to prepare a formal application which will be submitted to the Higher Education Authority for assessment against the criteria that have been established for Technological University designation.
The HEA will then invite an international panel to visit Dublin to evaluate the final application.
Following their deliberations and recommendation, the Minister for Education and Skills will make the final decision on designation.