Royal College of Surgeons to become Ireland’s newest university

Tadgh McNally

The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland looks likely to become Ireland’s next university, due to legislation that is passing through the Oireachtas.

The RSCI, who have lobbied the government in recent months to enact this change, would become Ireland’s eighth university, only weeks after the creation of Technological University Dublin.

This change has been long requested by the college as they believe that if they were made a university,  it would help them attract more international students – as well as increasing its reputation within Ireland, according to the Irish Times.

The legislation, which is known as the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill, is currently being passed through the Seanad. This bill will allow the RCSI to be judged on whether it meets the criteria for becoming a university.

An amendment is planned to be introduced by Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor to allow for the RCSI to achieve university status. The amendment would be drafted where a precedent would not be created for other colleges to follow.

The college has had trouble in the past when it has looked to become a university, mainly because it is seen as a private institution. However, the college argues that it is a public institution, comparing its statutory status to Trinity College.

Other problems that have plagued the RCSI are the fact that staff are not paid by the state, as well as government reluctance to create too many universities across the country.

Although the RCSI can’t call itself a university in Ireland, it may do so outside of Ireland after an amendment to the Education Act in 2015. However, it opts not to do this to avoid confusion abroad.

The college itself has around 3,500 students and is based on St Stephen’s Green. Earlier this year, it opened a medical education building on York Street worth €80 million, which is the largest of its kind in Europe.

The RCSI is one of the oldest colleges in Ireland, as it was established back in 1784. Before being a college, it was a guild known as the Guild of St Mary Magdelene.

It was incorporated by royal decree by Henry VI, and thus it actually became the first medical corporation in Britain or Ireland.

The College View reached out to the Royal College of Surgeons, but they declined to comment.

Tadgh McNally

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