Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Publication Details

Thesis sucessfully submitted to the School of Education, University of Sheffield for the award of Doctor of Education 2008.


Section 9 of the Universities Act 1997 set out, for the first time, a statutory mechanism for the establishment of a new university in Ireland. The Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) was the first institution to be granted a review under this legislation. This thesis presents an account and analysis of how the application for university title was handled by an international review group, by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and by the Irish Government. This case study is based on access to files held by the HEA and on interviews with some of the leading players in the Review Group, the HEA and DIT. The Review Group, which was set up to carry out an assessment of the DIT, took a very wide interpretation of its terms of reference and this was reflected in its advice to the Higher Education Authority. The HEA, on the other hand, chose a narrow legalistic interpretation of its remit when preparing a recommendation for Government. The significance of these two reports on the Government decision is considered in the light of amendments which were made to the relevant section of the Universities legislation during its passage through the Irish Senate. The statutory specification of the functions of the Higher Education Authority in relation to the Government decision regarding university designation is contrasted with the perceptions of this role by some of those involved in the process. The absence of any guidelines regarding the issues to be considered by the HEA in preparing its recommendation to Government is highlighted.