They offer both full and part-time courses over a broad range of occupations including business studies, engineering and medicine.
There are Regional ITs in Athlone, Carlow, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Tallaght, Tralee and Waterford and a number of specialised ITs: the Cork School of Music, the Crawford College of Art & Design, the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology and the National College of Art & Design.
The largest Institute of Technology, the DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) is the biggest third level institution in Ireland, with 22,000 students, and awards its own degrees. It has six constituent colleges, two Colleges of Technology, a College of Catering, a College of Marketing & Design, a College of Commerce and a College of Music.
Courses at ITs lead to certificates, diplomas, and in a limited number of areas, to degree qualifications awarded by the NCEA. A certificate is a technical qualification normally requiring two years’ study, a diploma a more advanced technical qualification usually requiring a three-year course (in some cases a certificate can be ‘upgraded’ to a diploma after an extra year’s study). If you obtain a distinction in a diploma course, you may be able to transfer to a degree course, requiring a further two years’ study. Regional ITs also offer apprenticeships and other training courses.
Colleges of Education & Colleges of Home Economics
In Ireland the system of teacher training differs between first and second level school teachers. Typically second level teachers complete a primary degree at university and then follow up with the Higher Diploma in Education, again at university. Primary school teachers complete a three-year programme leading to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree, at one of the five Colleges of Education. Four of these, St Patrick’s College, Church of Ireland College, St Mary Marino and Froebel College are in Dublin. Mary Immaculate College is in Limerick.
Teachers of Home Economics are trained in one of two Colleges of Home Economics: St. Angela’s in Sligo and St. Catherine’s in Dublin. These provide a full-time, four-year course leading to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree.
Teachers of art are trained in the National College of Art & Design in Dublin and a specialist college for teachers of physical education and crafts, Thomond College in Limerick, was incorporated into the University of Limerick in 1991. All graduates of these colleges are awarded a university degree.
One of the entry criteria for primary school teacher training in Ireland (for overseas as well as Irish students) is proficiency in the Irish language. The Higher Education Authority is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of pre-service education for newly qualified teachers. All graduates will be required to complete an induction year before being registered as teachers.