Mar Guide

Third Level Institutions

I had originally planned to write about universities and colleges but since I planned the programme, most of the Institutes of Technologies (IT’s) have amalgamated into various groups to form Technological Universities. I will discuss these and what they may mean for higher education in Ireland. To highlight once again the various routes to a meaningful career, we will take a look at Colleges of Further Education, what these are and what they do. Finally, I want to highlight the importance of when choosing a course, that some consideration is put into the college that is providing the course and how suitable it may be for your son or daughter.


All universities and IT’s come under the auspices of the Higher Education Authority (HEA). Traditionally, there were just seven universities in the Republic of Ireland. Three in Dublin, namely UCD, Trinity and DCU and one each in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Maynooth. However, in the past two years or we have gained another four with the amalgamation of the IT’s around Dublin to for the Technological University of Dublin (TUD) and now other IT’s around the country are joining forces to get university status. Here are the new ones:

Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) – Midlands and Midwest

Formerly Limerick IT (LIT), Athlone IT (AIT)

with additional campuses in Thurles, Clonmel, Ennis.

Atlantic Technological University

Due to commence 1st April 2022 comprising Galway-Mayo IT (GMIT), Sligo IT and Letterkenny IT.

Munster Technological University

Formerly Cork IT (CIT) and Tralee IT

In process

Currently Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow IT are in discussions to form another Technological University for the Southeast region.

In general, the creation of more universities will be good for education in Ireland. Having a University branded degree may carry more weight in industry provided that they sustain and improve the standards of teaching and research. However, there is also the requirement for lower level certifications (Higher Certificate, Ordinary Degree) in industry and these should not be abandoned by the former Institutes of Technology. There is a growing realisation that not all jobs previously requiring degree holders can be performed just as well by people without degree.

While the transition is taking place, it can be difficult to understand where a particular course is being held as now the campuses are geographically split. A certain amount of care is required to ensure that courses selected will take place in the desired location.

Colleges of Further Education

There are various colleges of Further Education around the country to be found in most urban centres. These come under the authority of the Education and Training Boards (ETB’s). These colleges provide mostly skills training for adults but the Post Leaving Cert courses will be run here also. To find colleges local to you, check the ETB website for your county. If you live close to a county border, it may be more appropriate to choose a college from a neighbouring county ETB.

The ETB’s run all of the Post Leaving Cert Courses which are now transitioning to FET (Further Education and Training) courses. The transition of naming is in part due to the fact that any adult can take part in these courses. They are not limited to those coming out of secondary school.


Regardless of the education centre that your son or daughter chooses, it is a good idea to spend some time visiting the establishment on Open Days or checking out their website, in particular Student Supports or Services. It occasionally happens that the course may be good for the student, but the college is not. If, for example, your teenager is very quiet and does not comfortably mix with large crowds, UCD is possibly not a good choice of college for them with over 30,000 students enrolled plus all of the support staff. UCD is like a large town during term time and some students can feel overwhelmed there. Alternatively, your teenager may thrive in a large crowd and find a smaller college too rural without sufficient social amenities a larger university can offer such as the vast array of sporting or cultural societies.

Some families, due to location or other considerations may have no choice except their local institution and this is perfectly fine. There can be no pressure to choose differently.


Regardless of which education institution your teenager wishes to attend, some thought should be put into whether this college will provide the right type of education, social supports for their personality and goals as well as the financial capability of the family.

As the former Institutes of Technology combine to form Universities, ensure that the course your teenager chooses is on the right campus for them.