Dublin City University (abbreviated as DCU) (Irish: Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath) is a university based on the Northside of Dublin, Ireland. Created as the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin in 1975, it enrolled its first students in 1980, and was elevated to university status (along with the NIHE Limerick, now the University of Limerick) in September 1989 by statute.
In September 2016, DCU completed the process of incorporating three other Dublin-based educational institutions: the Church of Ireland College of Education, Mater Dei Institute of Education and St Patrick’s College.
As of 2020, the university has 17,400 students and over 80,000 alumni. In addition the university has around 1,200 online distance education students studying through DCU Connected.
There were 1,690 staff in 2019. Notable members of the academic staff include former Taoiseach, John Bruton and “thinking” Guru Edward De Bono. Bruton accepted a position as Adjunct Faculty Member in the School of Law and Government in early 2004 and De Bono accepted an adjunct Professorship in the university in mid-2005.
The founding president of the institution was Dr Danny O’Hare, who retired in 1999 after 22 years’ service. After a period of administration by an acting president, Professor Albert Pratt, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski was appointed and continued as president for a full ten-year term, which ended in July 2010. He was succeeded by the current president, Professor Brian MacCraith.
The institution was created in 1975, on an ad hoc basis, and on 18 June that year Liam Mulcahy was made acting director of the institution, and a day later the first governing body met. Danny O’Hare became director in 1977, and presided over the institution for the next 22 years. It was intended at the early stage that the institution become the unified structure under which the colleges of what later became Dublin Institute of Technology would unite, but by 1978 it became apparent that this would not be the case and instead an independent institution developed with a distinct identity and mission.
In 1979, the institution was located on an 344,000 m2 (85 acres) site 5 km (3.1 mi) from the city centre, just north of Dublin City Council’s Albert College Park; the Albert College Building is the only significant remaining building from before this period. The Henry Grattan building was the first new building, completed in 1981, along with the adjoining restaurant, and many buildings have been added since, to form a modern university campus.
In 1986 the International Study Group on Technological Education was set up to examine the future of the National Institute for Higher Education at Dublin and Limerick, and in its report stated that it should be elevated to university status, with naming:
the NIHE Dublin having the title Dublin City University or the University of Leinster.
Ultimately the title “Dublin City University” was chosen and this was confirmed by the Dublin City University Act of 1989.
The early focus of the institution was, in particular, on science and technology, although it has also had, and has, a large business school. It has recently developed a presence also in the performing arts and in the humanities. DCU is also famous for its programme of work placement or INTRA (INtegrated TRAining), which was the first such programme in Ireland.
DCU has been providing adults all over Ireland (and abroad) with flexible access to higher education for over thirty-five years. In 1982 the National Distance Education Centre was located at DCU and for many years offered programmes in the traditional ‘distance education’ mode of delivery. It changed to Oscail – DCU Online Education in 2004 to reflect the reality that its programmes were increasingly designed with large elements of online support. In 2013, DCU launched the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) with the Open Education Unit as part of the new institute. This Unit manages an increasing number of online courses and degree programmes offered to Irish residents and students around the world through DCU Connected.
There was a plan in 2002 to base the headquarters of the Irish Academy for the Performing Arts in DCU, but this was later scrapped.