The National University of Ireland (NUI) is a federal university system of constituent universities, previously called constituent colleges, and recognised colleges set up under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and significantly amended by the Universities Act, 1997. The constituent universities are for all essential purposes independent universities, except that the degrees and diplomas are those of the National University of Ireland. The current chancellor of the university is Garret FitzGerald.
The constituent universities are:
The recognised colleges are:
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
- St Angela's College of Education, Sligo
- National College of Art and Design
- Shannon College of Hotel Management
- Institute of Public Administration
The 1845 the Queen's Colleges at Belfast, Cork, and Galway were established, in 1849 teaching commenced and a year later they were united under the Queen's University of Ireland. The Catholic University of Ireland was created as an independent university in Dublin in 1854 for the education of Catholics, this university however was neither a recognised university nor offered recognised degrees. In 1880 the Royal University of Ireland took over the degree awarding functions of the two former universities and offered recognised degrees to the graduates of the new University College Dublin, previously awarded under the Catholic University.
The 1908 reforms dissolved the Royal University and created the current National University of Ireland and a separate Queen's University of Belfast. The 1997 reforms, in addition to the restructuring of the National University of Ireland, an additional university at Maynooth was created from certain faculties of the previous recognised college, St Patrick's College, Maynooth.
Within the university their is a common faculty structure in operation in the constituent universities, these ten faculties are: Agriculture; Arts; Celtic Studies; Commerce; Engineering & Architecture; Food Science & Technology; Law; Medicine & Health Sciences; Philosophy & Sociology; Science; and Veterinary Medicine. Current issues within the National University include reform of the departmental structures of the two largest constituent universities, at Cork and Dublin, which have been criticised for been bureaucratic and cumbersome. This has caused some controversy at national level as the presidents of the constituent universities have heavily promoted the idea of reform whilst rank and file academic staff have resisted.