About Institutes of Technology

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The Institutes of Technology offer a very attractive option to students looking to study at third level, and a growing number of Irish school leavers choose to further their education at an IT every year.  Institutes of Technology (ITs) in Ireland offer qualifications including certificates, ordinary and honours degrees and the educational component of many apprenticeship and craft programmes. Many also run both taught and research postgraduate programmes.

The qualification system within the ITs allow students to initially take certain higher certificate courses, which normally last for two years, and then gain entry on to ordinary degree and subsequent honours degree courses. The advantage of this “ladder system” of qualification means that students can achieve excellent qualifications within a relatively short space of time. There is also the option of entering the job market after each step, and returning to ‘top up’ their qualification at a later date. Of course, there is the option of entering a degree programme without first taking a certificate course. The Dublin Institute of Technology is a university-level institution in its own right and validates its own awards.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) monitors quality standards at the other ITs and validates qualifications right up to PhD level. QQI qualifications are internationally recognised by academic, professional, trade and craft bodies. Many professional qualifications schemes (e. g. accountants, solicitors) have links with the Institute of Technology system.

The Institutes of Technology have developed significantly in recent decades. Regional Technical Colleges (RTCs) emerged in the 1970s to provide for technical educational needs among Irish students. The courses offered at the Colleges had a strong technical emphasis and were highly vocational in nature. The emergence of the RTCs offered a bigger choice to those who wanted to go on to further education, both in terms of their location and the programmes that they offered.

During the 1980s, RTC students began to pursue higher qualifications. However, there were no links between RTC certificates and the diplomas and degrees available at universities, and so students got few exemptions for university courses. Many found themselves in third-level education for six years or more. Over time closer links were established between the various institutions, and an over-arching framework of qualifications was put in place. In 1992, the Dublin Institute of Technology became an autonomous university-level institution under the DIT Act. It is constituted from the existing Colleges of Technology at Bolton Street and Kevin Street and the Colleges of Catering, Commerce, Marketing and Design, and Music. It was the only IT in Ireland until 1997, when the process of changing the then eleven RTCs to ITs began.

Although the ITs started life as colleges designed to produce graduates with highly technical skills, the scope of the courses supplied has widened considerably. There are still plenty of courses available in technology, engineering and science but potential students can now choose from a range of courses in areas such as business studies, humanities, languages, healthcare, art & design, tourism and leisure.


Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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