University of Dublin

University of Dublin
Ollscoil Átha Cliath
Latin: Universitas Dublinensis
Established 1592
Type Public
Chancellor Mary Robinson
Students 15,000 (2006)
Location Dublin, Ireland
53°20′40″N 6°15′28″W / 53.3444°N 6.2577°W / 53.3444; -6.2577Coordinates: 53°20′40″N 6°15′28″W / 53.3444°N 6.2577°W / 53.3444; -6.2577
University surroundings Historic landmark
Affiliations EUA

The University of Dublin (Ollscoil Átha Cliath in Irish), corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin (since the nineteenth century), located in Dublin, Ireland, was effectively founded when in 1592 Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter for Trinity College, Dublin, as "the mother of a university" – this date making it Ireland's oldest operating university.[1] Unlike the universities of Oxford and of Cambridge, after which the University of Dublin was modelled and both of which comprise several constituent colleges, there is just one Dublin college: Trinity College. Thus the designations "Trinity College Dublin" and "University of Dublin" are usually synonymous for practical purposes.

The University of Dublin is a member of Irish Universities Association and the Coimbra Group, a network of leading European universities.



The University of Dublin was modelled on University of Oxford and University of Cambridge in the form of a collegiate university, Trinity College being named by the Queen as the mater universitas ("mother of the university"). As no other college was ever established, Trinity is the sole constituent college of the university and so Trinity College and the University of Dublin are for most practical purposes synonymous.

Queen Victoria issued letters patent in 1857 giving legal foundation to the senate, and other authorities specific to the university – but the high court held in 1888 that these dealt with "not the incorporation of the University of Dublin but of its Senate merely", the judge noting pointedly, referring to the founding of University College Dublin, that "The advisers of Queen Victoria knew how to incorporate a University when they meant to do so."[2] In a remarkable High Court case of 1898, the Provost, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity were the claimants and the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin were among the defendants, and the court held that Trinity College and the University of Dublin "are one body".[2]

However, the actual statutes of the university and the college[3] grant the university separate corporate legal rights to own property and borrow money and employ staff.


The university is governed by the university senate, chaired by the chancellor or their pro-chancellor. The Senate was constituted by the Letters Patent of 1857 as a body corporate under the name, style, and title of "The Chancellor, Doctors, and Masters of the University of Dublin", empowered by statements such as "It shall be and shall continue to be a body corporate with a common seal, and shall have power under the said seal to do all such acts as may be lawful for it to do in conformity with the laws and statutes of the State and with the Charters and Statutes of the College. It shall consist of the Chancellor, the Pro-Chancellors, and such Doctors and Masters of the University as shall be members of the Senate in accordance with such regulations and conditions as the Board shall enact." The "Board" in the above case however is the governing authority of Trinity College, so it would seem the University has also some degree of subsidiarity to the Board of the College, but this is countered by the role of visitors below.

Each meeting of the Senate is headed by a "Caput", consist of the Chancellor, the Provost of Trinity College (or Vice-Provost in their place) and the Senior Master Non-Regent. (A Master of Arts is called a Regent during the three years following the time when he or she took that degree; subsequently he or she is designated as Non-Regent, and one elected by the Senate from among the Masters Non-Regent, by statute, is, according to ancient usage, designated as "Senior Master Non-Regent".)

At the first Public Commencements of the academic year the Senior Master Non-Regent is elected on the proposition of the Chancellor and the Provost. The Senior and Junior Proctors and the Registrar also make the declaration which is appropriate to their respective offices. In attendance also are, usually, the Registrar (who is responsible for legal and administrative matters) and the Junior and Senior Proctors (who present undergraduate and postgraduate candidates for degree commencement ceremonies). There is also a mace holder, the Chief Steward (responsible for College Security) or his deputy, who proceeds the Caput in a procession. Attendees stand while the procession progresses to the head of the room. These ceremonies are usually conducted in the Public Theatre in the front square of Trinity College. Business is conducted in Latin and the Chief Steward verbally asks for each candidate to be put under scrutiny by saying "ad scrutinum", with the Doctors and Masters of the Senate then asked in turn as distinct groups to consent to the degree being awarded to the candidate.

Under statutes[3] the University Senate also elects two members to the University Council, chaired by the Provost and having the Senior Lecturer of the College as secretary, which governs academic matters. The current Provost of Trinity, John Hegarty, formerly Dean of Research, was elected in 2001. The franchise for the Provost election is the Provost, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity College. The University Council is in effect part of the College, and not of the Senate. The Senate also elect members to the Library Committee which oversees the Trinity College Library.

Traditionally, sports clubs also use the moniker "University" rather than "College". Some of the legal definitions and differences between college and university were discussed in the reform of the University and College in The Charters and Letters Patent Amendment Bill[4][5][6][7][8] which later became law but many of the College contributions to this were unclear or not comprehensive, possibly because it concerned an internal dispute within College as to outside interference and also as misconduct by College Authorities in overseeing voting which led to a visitors enquiry which in turn found problems with the voting procedures and ordered a repeat ballot.

The Visitors are also dealt with in Statutes and consist of the Chancellor of the University and one other person (usually a member of the Judiciary) and are a final appeal should anyone contest a decision of the Board or a procedure within College which has been appealed through Departmental School, Faculty, Council, and Board levels and is still contested. The visitors can therefore overturn a decision of the Board. Given the Chancellor of the University is one of two visitors and has the overall authority in difference of opinion between both visitors, it would seem the Board of the College has also some degree of subsidiarity to the University.

Other contributions on Trinity College can be found in submissions to the Oireachtas on reform of Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Irish Oireachtas, since the University elects members to that body)[9][10][11][12][13][14] and in particular the verbal submission of the Provost.[15]

Current officers

Dr Mary Robinson is the current Chancellor of the University, its titular head, and there are an up to six pro-Chancellors, who can act in her place. In November 2010, when Professor Petros Florides was inaugurated these also included Dr Tony O’Reilly, Dr Patrick Molloy, Dr Dermot McAleese, Dr John Scattergood and Dr David Spearman.

Senate composition

The undermentioned persons are members of the Senate, provided that in each case they are Doctors or Masters of the University:

  1. Resident Doctors or Masters of the University, that is, Doctors or Masters who are not members of the College or University staff but who hold rooms in College or are in attendance on lectures in arts or in the professional schools.
  2. Doctors and Masters of the University who have held a Studentship of the University, or are Moderators who have obtained a large gold medal, or Moderators who have obtained a gold medal in or after 1935, or Moderators who have obtained two Moderatorships of a class higher than class III, and who have applied to the Registrar of the Senate for membership of the Senate, without payment of fee.
  3. Former Fellows of the College.
  4. Representatives and former representatives of the University in Seanad Éireann.
  5. Members of the staff of the College or University, during their tenure of office.
  6. Doctors or Masters of the University who have applied to the Registrar of the Senate for membership of the Senate, and have paid a fee of (£5 in 1966 – in 2009 about €50)

In each academic year, the Senate holds not less than four Stated Meetings for the Conferring of Degrees; of these Meetings, which, according to ancient usage, are known in the University as "Public Commencements", two shall be held in Michaelmas Term, and two in Trinity Term.

The Senate also holds a Stated Meeting in Hilary Term for the purpose of transacting business of the Senate other than the conferring of degrees.


Trinity College Campus

The University of Dublin has numerous historic achievements, including the development of the ISBN system and being the first university in Europe to award degrees in modern languages.


  • Times Higher Education Supplement Global Ranking[16]
    43rd overall globally and 13th in Europe,[17] up from fifty-third globally in 2007 and forty-ninth in 2008, 37th for Arts and Humanities globally (up from thirty-ninth in 2006), and the only Irish University in the top 100 (there are 4 in the top 300).
  • Financial Times MBA Ranking
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University Ranking
    203rd globally and 1st in Ireland.[18]
  • Whitefield Consulting Worldwide – European MBA Rankings 2007
    16th in Europe and 1st in Ireland[19]


Early history

The idea of an Irish university was first proposed in the Middle Ages, and a university at Dublin was authorized by Pope Clement V on the 13th July 1311, following petitioning by the Archbishop of Dublin John Lech.[20] A Chancellor and staff were subsequently appointed to this Studium Generale and the university's students were granted royal protection in 1358 by Edward III in efforts to restart the university,[21] another attempt to re-found in 1475 but these endeavors for a Catholic university came to an end with the English Reformation of the 1530s. Following the Reformation in the 1540s Archbishop George Browne DD, made unsuccessful attempts to establish another University in Dublin, called Christ College at St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Again in 1566 another attempt was made based on Archbishop Browne's ideas again unsuccessfully.[22] Between 1584 and 1591 Archbishop Adam Loftus won the argument against the Lord Deputy of Ireland Sir John Perrot proposal for a new university at St. Patrick's, with two colleges.[23]

In 1592, a small group of Dublin citizens obtained a charter from Queen Elizabeth incorporating Trinity College Dublin, which was then and remained the only college of a new University of Dublin. The Corporation of Dublin granted the university the lands of All Hallows monastery, one mile to the south east of the city walls.[24] Two years later a few Fellows and students began to work in the new College, which then consisted of one small square. During the next fifty years, the community increased. Endowments, including great landed estates, were secured, new fellowships were founded, books which formed the beginning of the great library were acquired, a curriculum was devised and statutes were framed.

Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

The eighteenth century was for the most part a peaceful era in Ireland, and the university shared its calm, though at the beginning of the period a few Jacobites and at its end a very small group of political radicals seriously perturbed the College authorities. During this century it was the university of the Protestant ascendancy. Parliament, meeting on the other side of College Green, viewed it benevolently and made generous grants for building. The first building of the new age was the Library, begun in 1712; then followed the Printing House and the Dining Hall; and during the second half of the century Parliament Square slowly emerged. The great building drive was completed in the early nineteenth century by Botany Bay, the square which derives its name in part from the herb garden it once contained.

The nineteenth century was marked by important developments in the professional schools. The Law School was reorganised after the middle of the century. Medical teaching had been given in the College since 1711, but it was only after the establishment of the school on a sound basis by legislation in 1800 and under the inspiration of James Macartney, the brilliant and quarrelsome anatomist, that it was in a position to play its full part, with such teachers as Graves and Stokes, in the great age of Dublin medicine. The Engineering School was established in 1842 and was one of the first of its kind in the British Isles.

Queen Victoria issued letters patent in 1857 giving legal foundation to the Senate and other university authorities.

Twentieth century

The School of Commerce was established in 1925, and the School of Social Studies in 1934. In 1962 the School of Commerce and the School of Social Studies amalgamated to form the School of Business and Social Studies. The School of Pharmacy was established in 1977.

In 1969 the several schools and departments were grouped into Faculties as follows: Arts (Humanities and Letters); Business, Economic and Social Studies; Engineering and Systems Sciences; Health Sciences (since October 1977 all undergraduate teaching in dental science in the Dublin area has been located in Trinity College); Science.

In 2000 the College embarked on a "reform" process with the intention of "restructuring" the six faculties into three. After five years of debate the restructuring had attained five Faculties and two "super schools" or "Vice Deaneries". The governing Authority had also eliminated a debt of about three million Euro. A new Governing Authority were then elected and another "restructuring" plan presented to them. This resulted in three faculties but had increased the debt to over five million.

In 1977 the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was transferred to University College Dublin in an arrangement in which UCD also gained the sole Agriculture Faculty[citation needed] but Trinity College establish a dental Hospital.

Recent years

The University of Dublin is today in the very centre of Dublin, as the city has moved eastwards. Its campus contains many buildings of architectural merit, especially from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These include the Chapel and Examination Hall designed by Sir William Chambers and the Museum Building designed by the Irish architects Thomas Newenham Deane and Benjamin Woodward.

Access for Catholics and women

During its early life, the University of Dublin was a university exclusively for the Protestant Ascendancy class of Dublin – Elizabeth actually expressed the hope that it would help shape a more developed loyal ruling class. The 1637 statutes required that students entering college take an oath of allegiance to the Protestant crown, the oath of supremacy, and a declaration against transubstantiation (a basic tenet of the Roman Catholic faith).[25] Following the first steps of Catholic Emancipation, Roman Catholics were first admitted in 1793 (prior to Cambridge and Oxford). In 1873 all religious tests were abolished, except for the Divinity School. However, it was not until 1970 that the Roman Catholic Church, through the Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid, lifted its policy of excommunication for Roman Catholics who enrolled without special dispensation, at the same time as the university authorities allowed a Roman Catholic chaplain to be based in the university.[26] Trinity College, Dublin is a sister college to Oriel College, University of Oxford and St John's College, University of Cambridge.

Women were admitted to the University of Dublin as full members for the first time in 1904.The first female professor was appointed in 1934.


Graduates of liberal degrees, i.e. non-professional such as Humanities or Science, receive an honours Bachelor of Arts degree after four years, but may receive an ordinary B.A. after three years' study. Bachelors of at least three years' standing may proceed to the degree of Master of Arts.

From 1975 onwards, University of Dublin degrees were also awarded to graduates at the colleges of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT); this practice continued until 1998 when DIT gained the ability to award degrees in its own right.

Parliamentary representation

For more details see University of Dublin (constituency).

The University has been represented since 1613 when James I granted it the right to elect two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the Irish House of Commons. When the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain were joined with the Act of Union, which came into force in 1801, the University sent one MP to the British House of Commons at Westminster until 1832, when it was given another. It continued to elect two until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The Government of Ireland Act 1920 provided for a House of Commons of Southern Ireland, for which the University was to elect four MPs as in Westminster, where University representatives were MPs and not Lords, University of Dublin seats were in the Dáil and not the Seanad. These were the only MPs to attend the opening of the House in 1921 since Sinn Féin candidates in the twenty-six counties were returned unopposed and took the other 128 of the 132 seats.[27] Sinn Féin recognised their own Parliament determined by the Irish people as distinct to any continuation of British legislative rule under the British Government of Ireland Act. From 1923 to 1936, the University elected three TDs to sit in Dáil Éireann. Since the new Constitution of Ireland in 1937, the University has elected three Senators to Seanad Éireann.

The current representatives of the University are Ivana Bacik, Sean Barrett and David Norris. Notable representatives have included Edward Gibson, W. E. H. Lecky, Edward Carson, Noel Browne, Conor Cruise O'Brien and Mary Robinson.

The franchise was originally restricted to the Provost, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity College. This was expanded in 1832 to include those who had received an M.A. and in 1918 all those who had received a degree from the University.

Notes and references

  1. ^ An earlier attempt to set up a university at Dublin in 1320, under an "ordance" issued by Alexander de Bicknor, archbishopm of Dublin, authorizing four masters, proved abortive when Bicknor was disgraced as a partisan of Mortimer (May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century (Oxford History of England) 1959:45 note 2.
  2. ^ a b Dublin: The High Court of Justice of Ireland, as published by Trinity College Dublin in Volume II of Chartae et Statuta Collegii Sacrosanctae et Individuae Trinitatis Reginae Elizabethae juxta Dublin, 1898, pages 507–536, in re The Provost, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity College, Dublin v. the Attorney General, the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin and the Trustees and Executors of the will of the late Richard Tuohill Reid, holding that Trinity College and the University of Dublin "are one body."
  3. ^ a b "Microsoft Word - Statutes-Current.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  4. ^ "and Letters Patent Amendment Bill". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  5. ^ "The Trinity College Dublin (Charters and Letters Patent Amendment) Bill, 1997-Minutes of Evidence 06/06/1999 - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  6. ^ "The Trinity College Dublin (Charters and Letters Patent Amendment) Bill, 1997-Minutes of Evidence 07/12/1999 - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  7. ^ "The Trinity College Dublin (Charters and Letters Patent Amendment) Bill, 1997-Minutes of Evidence 15/02/2000 - Tithe an Oireachtais". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  8. ^ "The Trinity College Dublin (Charters and Letters Patent Amendment) Bill, 1997-Minutes of Evidence 01/03/2000 - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  9. ^ "m84359-Seanad reform rep" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  10. ^ "All Submissions Index and Appendix - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  11. ^ "All Submissions Nominating Bodies - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  12. ^ "All Submissions Educational Institutions - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  13. ^ "All Submissions Public Representatives - Tithe an Oireachtais". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  14. ^ "All Submissions Members of the Public - Tithe an Oireachtais". 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  15. ^ "Sub-committee on Seanad Reform - 18 September 2003. - Tithe an Oireachtais". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  16. ^ Based on various categories including peer review, recruiter review, international faculty ratio, international students ratio, student faculty ratio, citations per faculty; 3 of Top 5 UK but most of Top 25 US -
  17. ^ " - The Irish Times - Thu, Nov 08, 2007 - Several Irish universities advance in world rankings". The Irish Times. 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  18. ^ "SJTU Ranking". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  19. ^ "Whitefield Consulting Worldwide - European MBA Rankings 2007". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  20. ^ The Medieval University of St.Patrick's, Dublin By Aubery Gwynn, S.J., Lecturer in Medieval History, University College Dublin.
  21. ^ A New History of Ireland: Prehistoric and early Ireland By Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Theodore William Moody, Oxford University Press.
  22. ^ St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin: A History by John Crawford and Raymond Gillespie, Four Courts Press (2009)
  23. ^ History and Antiquities of the College and Cathedral Church of St Patrick, near Dublin by William Monck Mason, (Dublin, 1819)
  24. ^ History of Trinity College: Laying the Foundations[dead link]
  25. ^ [International History of Libraries, Trinity College Library]
  26. ^ "B.A.S.I.C.: Soline Vatinel, The Archbishop and Me". 2000-01-22. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  27. ^ Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas - "The Houses of the Oireachtas: Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann - Historical Note". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 

See also

External links

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