Why should I consider studying at a technological university?

Exploring the full range of course choices within your areas of interest is key

If you are one of the 80,000-plus CAO applicants for 2023 and you are still considering your course choices before the July 1st deadline, I would not vary the advice I always give: list the courses you would like to study in order of preference without reference to possible points score requirements (within reason) and without speculating how you may perform yourself if you are taking the Leaving Cert this June.

One common mistake students make each year is to only list courses in their preferred college or in ones they are already familiar with – without exploring options within the wider CAO system.

The newly created technological universities (TUs) may not be on the radar of many applicants who have focused exclusively on programmes on offer in the traditional research universities located in their geographic region.

As CAO applicants have up to 10 course choices at both level eight and levels seven/six, not considering the option of studying at a Technological University can be a missed opportunity in application planning, particularly if one were to fall short of the CAO points requirement for the preferred course.


Technological universities have many attractions that may not be on the radar of many applicants.

Given the processes that they have collectively completed to meet the requirements needed to obtain university status, they have a strong sense of mission and have scaled-up in terms of size, compared with their previous existence as institutes of technology.

The work on building a unified culture within the five new institutions has resulted in strong emphasis on fostering the student experience.

As a consequence of this unified culture and enhanced student numbers overall between the various campuses, there will be excellent offerings, not only for those with academic intentions, but they will also be attractive for those with cultural or sporting ambitions.

As the technological universities now have campuses throughout the country, particularly in areas of the State where students previously tended to travel to bigger cities to attend university, there is now a strong regional focus. Campuses are spread out within those geographic areas, offering a university option in regions that to date have not had one.

Due to this wider regional spread students may be able to attend a college outside of Dublin, Cork, Galway, or Limerick, where the costs of renting will be considerably lower, thereby avoiding the considerable burden of costly living expenses associated with securing accommodation away from home.


The key difference distinguishing technological universities from the more traditional research institutions is that they have a distinctive pedagogical and research focus with emphasis on practice. In this way students get to experience learning through “doing”.

Furthermore, because of the practical requirements of programmes within the technological university sector, many courses feature an internship element with local employers.

Because students will be placed in real work situations, they will get to show their potential to future employers, which will lead to strong employability following graduation, or in many cases at the end of their placement, where contracts of employment to follow graduation are offered.

Looking at the options following graduation, technological universities are statutorily obliged to expand their research activity; this will bring opportunity for those with the ability and ambition, particularly at postgraduate level.

CAO points have tended to be lower in some of the institutes of technology due to lack of demand for places. The points requirements will inevitably rise for courses in technological universities over the coming years as they build on investments being made to bring them to their full potential, but currently they are attractive and competitive.

All the technological universities operate within European University constructs that will provide significant opportunities for students to consider additional study options throughout Europe at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Finally, while TUs are bigger entities than the legacy institutes of technology, their academic units are still relatively compact, and that has protected the friendliness and approachability that students have identified as a key attraction of the sector.

I am not for one minute suggesting that you should abandon your first-choice course if it is not already offered in a technological university, but what I am saying is that an exploration of the full range of course choices within your areas of interest to include the five new institutions as well as the remaining two institutes of technology at IADT and Dundalk might lead you to expand your list of course coded for your final CAO list before the July 1st deadline.