Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe is to dissolve the National University of Ireland (NUI), it was announced today.
Minister O’Keeffe acknowledged the important role the NUI has played in Irish education for more than a century.
"However, the central role of the NUI was significantly reduced in the Universities Act, 1997, and the need to have a separate body undertaking what is now a limited set of functions has been outlived," said O'Keeffe.
"The NUI’s four constituent universities - University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth - have the same statutory status as the State’s three other universities but a small number of administrative and academic functions are still carried out on their behalf by the NUI.
"Work will now be carried out on redistributing the remaining functions of the NUI and it is envisaged that many of them will be undertaken by the constituent universities."
In the October 2008 Budget, the Government announced that the NUI’s functions would be considered in the context of the establishment of an amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance agency.
The McCarthy Report recommended the dissolution of the NUI.
A Bill to establish a new qualifications and quality assurance agency for the further and higher education sectors is now being drafted.
"I am simplifying the qualifications and quality assurance landscape by amalgamating existing agencies in that area," said O'Keeffe.
"That pursuit of institutional coherence has led me to conclude that the NUI’s role in higher education is no longer sustainable.
"This is consistent with the Government’s public sector reform agenda,’ said Minister O’Keeffe.
NUI has awarding relationships with a small number of recognised colleges.
Most of these colleges have already been exploring possible future options for award-making and when the dissolution is completed these colleges will need to enter new awarding arrangements.
One option for them will be to link with one of the former constituent universities.
The NUI has a role in the election of three members of Seanad Éireann.
Minister O’Keeffe will address this issue "by working closely with his colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, in the context of wider plans for Seanad reform", said a statement.