Ideas of the University
The history of higher education in Ireland is inseparable from international debates around competing ideas of the university: John Henry Newman, founding rector of the Catholic University, first expressed his famous ideal of a liberal university education in Dublin. The development of the major universities on the island of Ireland was linked to religious and political divisions which cast a long shadow well into the twentieth century. The Irish Universities Act, 1908, which established the National University of Ireland and Queen’s University, Belfast, established the institutional pattern of university education in Ireland until the late twentieth century. The seminal legislation also secured the entry of women to the universities without discrimination, but gender inequalities persisted in enrolments, college structures and academic appointments.