Among eight third-level colleges with no chairperson is Institute of Technology Tralee, where the chair is now vacant for three years.
The governance deficits were flagged to Education Minister Richard Bruton by senior civil servants when he took office 11 weeks ago, at the beginning of May.
“Some of these are particularly urgent as there may not be any board in place or because important decisions need to be made by the board in the near future,” they wrote.
Mr Bruton yesterday named appointees to the Educational Research Centre, but the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has had no chairperson since January.
Eight other seats on its board are empty for between seven and 15 months, and the National Council for Special Education has had no board since the end of 2015.
Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne said the delayed appointments mean executive bodies are unable to take important decisions on policy.
“This has created a policy drift across the whole education sector. These bodies are also unable to sign off on administration and management reforms which are desperately needed,” he said.
A Department of Education spokesperson said the process of filling positions is under way, with appointees to the NCSE and HEA boards to be announced very shortly.
He said the minister inherited the vacancies situation due to “the absolutely correct policy” of not filling boards during the caretaker government period from February to May.
“Filling board vacancies takes time, due to the process involved, including the advertisement process, the shortlisting process carried out by the Public Appointment Service, and the process of obtaining Cabinet approval for appointments as is required in many cases,” he said.