Abolition of the National University of Ireland

Minister Batt O’Keeffe announced this afternoon that the Government has decided to scrap the National University of Ireland. UC Dublin, UC Cork, NUI Maynooth and NUI Galway were the constituent colleges. The total number of universities in Ireland has thus been increased, at a stroke, from four to seven. Ireland should now soar up the universities-per-capita league tables.

Sadly, it will no longer be possible for the NUI to play the role envisioned for it in the 1950s by Flann O’Brien (Myles na Gopaleen). He ended an Irish Times controversy about academic snobbery and the excessive use of academic titles by proposing that NUI should simply confer doctorates on all Irish citizens at birth. Although the government appears to have embarked on a slower progress toward the same destination.

There will now be a difficulty in arranging the next Seanad election, for which the graduates of NUI form a constituency. Unless of course….

32 replies on “Abolition of the National University of Ireland”


How much will this save?

By how much will it devalue the existing NUI degrees?

If a prospective employer asks what happened the University which conferred me with a degree, what should I say (“defunct” is not good)

Can I give you as a reference?

It’s better for the NUI to quit now while it still has a reputation. It was only a matter of time before the government turned it into a NAMA SPV. Or perhaps used it to acquire a glass bottle site it already owned, at an eventual cost of half a billion euro according to one journalist. For foreign readers that last sentence is not a joke. We did own the site and a half a billion eventual cost is being discussed.

For some light relief read the first three pages of this thread from the political humour forum of politics.ie:
“Private, not secret!” – Is John Gormley dumber than George W.?

I guess they won’t be doing the travelling scholarship award this year then… Dognam it.


It could be argued that there is/was an academic bubble too that needs treatment.
Inflation of number of vice presidents, claims of international importance
Emperors clothes and all that


I’m sure everyone already realises this but Colm was too modest to mention that this was advocated in his spending review.

“There will now be a difficulty in arranging the next Seanad election, for which the graduates of NUI form a constituency. Unless of course….”

the government finally conforms Seanad elections to the intent of the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1979?

The Irish Times refers to the “THE National University of Ireland, which awards qualifications in all of the State’s major third-level institutions . . ”
That puts the University of Dublin in its place.

Its seems the report is coming drip by drip or should that be snip by snip.

I have no emotional attachement to the NUI. The basis of my concern is a complete lack of faith that any alternative will be either cost effective or able to deliver on its remit in any capacity.

Institutional trust in southern Ireland is dead I fear. Maybe the well connected few sitting on various govt. boards etc think otherwise but hey…

So I cant applaud Batt. Even if he does the right thing I dont believe they are capable of bettering a situation, rather chaos built upon chaos.

I forget the details of An Bord Snip but did you recommend abolishing the Seanad? Wouldn’t that have saved a lot more money?

I suspect that may be the direction of the wry “unless …” 🙂

I had returned to the original report to get this description of the Committee’s “Basis of Evaluation” (p.vi)
“raising basic questions such as the necessity for provision of the service”

I fear the writing is on the wall for the Seanad …

We in the UoD stand above, apart, and possibly at times in a parallel dimension to the state de jour….. 🙂

Since the Universities Act, the NUI doesn’t confer any degrees on graduates of its constituent universities (UCD, UCC, NUIM and NUIG) although as far as I know it does confer degrees on graduates of its constituent colleges (IPA, RCSI etc). So I assume the latter will have to hitch their wagons onto one of the universities if the NUI is abolished.

In my view the NUI serves no logical purpose anymore and should be abolished, but I was a bit puzzled by Colm McCarthy’s recommendation that the NUI be abolished for cost saving reasons. I work at UCD and our sole remaining interaction with the NUI is in relation to the appointment of external examiners for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The NUI also pays the travel expenses of externs. Surely if the NUI is abolished these costs will just revert to the Universities?

On a separate note I wonder whether the abolition of the NUI facilitate closer links between UCD and TCD, resulting perhaps in the entry of the ‘tech’ into the UoD?

“On a separate note I wonder whether the abolition of the NUI facilitate closer links between UCD and TCD, resulting perhaps in the entry of the ‘tech’ into the UoD?”

well theres provision for that. We could do with another consitituent junior college…..:)

More seriously – i have never yet been persuaded that theres a logic in any merger of UCD/TCD. We do have two world class universities in dublin, maybe not in the top flight at all levels, but clearly very very good by international standards. What logic is there in merging these, above small administrative savings? What is it with irish universities that theres a fear of competition lurking below the surface?

@John Muldoon
My memory is that Colm McCarthy’s report was completely silent on the number of TDs or the size of the Cabinet – both of which can be cut without referenda.

Brian Lucey: You write that TCD operates in a ‘…parallel dimension…’, which stretches my mathematical understanding. How can a dimension be parallel? Are’nt dimensions sort of orthogonal?

Did you mean ‘parallel universe’?

Dublin should have a cluster of good universities … should Boston join Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Northeastern, Boston College etc. … into one big university .. where’s the sense in that?

apparently, so the fellahs in physics tell me (or so I grossly misunderstand) what you and I thought (nice, orthogonal dimensions) is no longer the case. Now, i could be wrong but i thought they said that the four dimensions we see is a membrane with 7 other dimensions all sorta squizhed into them , and lots of other membranes all float around in “the bulk”. My brain hurt then so I made my excuses and left.

@colm mccarthy
“How can a dimension be parallel?”
It’s just another name for the many worlds theory:
Judging from Brians contributions from over there they seem to experiencing many of the same financcial problems as us

This is now the most read, and the most emailed, story on Ireland. com.

Graduates are watching their degrees being devalued at a stroke of a pen without explanation.

in this parallel universe, my earlier questions remain pertinent and unanswered.

@ Lefournier

Surely, the degree is recognition of knowledge and skills, etc, of the specific subjects undertaken in the academic environment.

It is the experience that enobles the person not the cert.

Your characterisation of a degree differs little from an ‘Irish Quality Beef’ cert in the 1980’s!


I note the Irish language lobby bemoaning it this morning as it is the NUI who demand Irish + a third language for matriculation. Seems to me the abolition of the NUI will allow their former constituents to participate in a freer market in second level graduates.

Le Fournier: sorry did’nt spot your 4 questions. Answers are
(i) €3m. pa
(ii) not at all
(iii) say UCD, UCC or whatever
(iv) no

Presumably UCC will become the University of Cork, NUIG the University of Galway, etc. As for UCD…

I see they have another body lined up to take its place (amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance agency). I wonder how much that will cost? I thought we were supposed to be getting rid of Quangos?

I think the National University of Ireland brand is a valuable one. It has respect Internationally.

@rubensni – NUIG is not for changing

@Colm – it would be remarkable indeed if the abolition of the NUI had no effect on the value of its degrees.

I am interested that none of the economists on this site would challenge your unsubstantiated optimism. Markets in everything, except their stock in trade!

Outside of Ireland, I would assume that the Dublin universities would be the ones with any recognition.

Why should running the NUI cost €3m?

The brand could be kept with a stripped down role.

Sell Merrion Sq hq and find office accommodation for 3 people?

I would expect that the venerable NUI tag would have some value in attracting foreign staff to the provincial universities.

Ireland is very bad at generating overseas income from education.

It’s Australia’s third biggest export earner but doesn’t merit a category in Ireland’s services exports.

In fact on branding, the Dept of Education is very cavalier in allowing small hole-in-the wall operations with fancy names – – usually including the word “institute” or “business school” sell services in poor countries through agents. How about an annual fee of €5,000 per year for a computer course over a shop, that locals would run a mile from? There is the lure of finding a part-time job for 20 hours work each week and the eventual hope of an EU visa. Loans are usually raised from the extended family network to fulfill the dream.

In 2007, the Indian government refused to allow entry to an Irish education trade mission because of inadequate protection for fees paid, following the collapse of an outfit that was named “Dundalk Business School.”

Bigger private businesses such as Griffith College, are not required to state clearly on their websites that they are not recognised universities.

The Department of Educations’s Internationalisation Register
(Excel file)

An IT editorial today. This won’t go away.
“The NUI senate points out there are 250,000 graduates and 7,000 current international students who give it valuable recognition nationally and internationally. The Government should heed its call for an early meeting to discuss the NUI’s position on quality assurance, institutional coherence and the preservation of a resource which is of continuing value to the universities and to Ireland in general.”


Comments are closed.