Technological University Dublin: new learning opportunities in third level education

This time next month, students from DIT, IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght will have to acclimatise themselves with telling their friends, relatives and future employers that they studied in the Technological University Dublin.

TU Dublin will be the first university of its kind in Ireland.

Professor Brian Norton, the current President of DIT, discussed what it meant to become Ireland’s first Technological University, “I think Technological University Dublin brings together the institutions with a common mission in Dublin. To provide clear, legible opportunities for a whole range of students in a larger institution.”

The project to unite these three institutes began in 2011 when the Hunt Report suggested the introduction of a technical university to the Irish education ecosystem.

In the last year, efforts to make TU Dublin a reality began to ramp-up. In March, Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins signed into law the Technological Universities Act 2018 following its successful passing through the Oireachtas. In April, a formal application to the Minister for Education & Skills was submitted, to seek a designation as Ireland’s first technological university and in July An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the decision to approve the establishment of TU Dublin.

Some logistical questions still remain for prospective students, existing students and the Blanchardstown and Tallaght communities. Professor Brian Norton said, “Students won’t be moving under the one roof. The idea is, the institution will have three campuses and is online. I can see a situation, where there is a demand to offer the same course in two different locations; to meet different needs.”

One example Mr Noton proposed where the same course is offered in two locations is culinary studies which is taught both in DIT Cathal Brugha St and IT Tallaght at present. Mr Norton said these courses could even become one course, under the right circumstances, but he was clear to point out that any change to a course would be subject to local and national needs. “What we don’t want to lose is certain campuses that are rooted in meeting local needs. We don’t want to lose that in exchange for getting a bigger institution.”

The creation of TU Dublin will offer current DIT students more employment opportunities especially when applying for jobs abroad.

“Internationally the ‘Institute of Technology,’ doesn’t travel very well, so certainly to the international standing of the institution, it will be very important. I know it’s important to our graduates, particularly internationally, because again on an application form when it says ‘which University did you study at?’ To have a university [degree] is important there.” said Professor Norton.

From the first of January, 28,000 students will be enrolled in TU Dublin but the spirit and teaching style of three Institutes will not change. Professor Norton said, “In Ireland, the range of universities has been limited.

“Internationally there are many different kinds of universities. This [TU Dublin] is really part of getting a range of institutions that meet different learner needs, different graduate requirements and different industry standards.

“The difference I would say is retaining the types of things around small group work, practical work and that students are demonstrating their work by the application of knowledge and not just closed book exams. But it is a university – it’s just broadening the opportunities for university education,” he added.

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