The creation of a new "university of creative arts" from the merger of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) is proposed in a report to be published later this year.
The aim is to boost collaboration across the creative arts in higher education and enhance the sector’s potential to attract lucrative research funding.
The merger is one of five key recommendations in a report on the future of arts education commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
While Ireland has built a strong reputation internationally on the strength of the work of individual artists, most experts believe the sector as a whole has punched below its weight. Many feel this is due to a lack of joint action across education institutions involved in the creative arts.
The NCAD, which offers the largest range of art and design degrees in the State, has about 1,000 full-time and 600 part-time students. The IADT, which has about 2,500 students, specialises in areas such as film, TV, creative media technology and production design.
It is understood the report is being issued to both institutions for their feedback and is due to be published later this year.
A spokesman for NCAD said: “We are aware through ongoing discussion with the HEA about a number of potentials that have been proposed, but as we have not received the specific report you refer to, we cannot comment.”
Dr Annie Doona, president of IADT, said: "Anything that enhances IADT's reputation as the leading provider of third-level education in the creative, art and design sectors is welcomed."
A potential merger into a university would boost the standing of the Dún Laoghaire college, whose status is similar to that of an institute of technology. It is not involved in any consortium which is seeking to secure technological university status.
The NCAD, on the other hand, already has strong links with UCD. It formed a strategic alliance with the university in 2010. At one point there was speculation that NCAD and UCD could merge, though this never materialised.