The University of Limerick (UL) (Irish: Ollscoil Luimnigh) is a university in Ireland near the city of Limerick on the island's west coast. It was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989. The university was the first university established since the foundation of the State in 1922, followed later the same day by the establishment of Dublin City University.

The university is located along the River Shannon, on a 80 hectare (200 acre) site in the 240 hectare (600 acre) National Technological Park at Castletroy, 5 km from Limerick city centre. The university has currently in excess of 11,000 full-time undergraduate students and 1,500 part-time students. There are also over 800 research postgraduates and 1,300 taught postgraduate students at the university. The Co-Operative Education (commonly called Co-Op) programme allocates all students with an 8-month work place-ment as part of their degree. This was the first such programmes in the state.

Professor Don Barry is the current president of the university, having been appointed in 2007.

History:

According to Dr Edward M Walsh, first President of the University of Limerick, the Mayor of Limerick applied to have a Queen's College located in the city in 1845, but instead Belfast, Cork and Galway were established.

The Limerick University Project Committee was founded in September 1959 as a project of the 1957 Mayor of Limerick, Ted Russell. Another supporter, Mr Justice Dermot Kinlen, was a High Court judge and later the first State Inspector General of Prisons and Places of Detention. Both Mr Russell and Mr Justice Kinlen were awarded honorary degrees by the university in 2002.

The state was reluctant to found more university-level institutions, and in the late-1960s developed a policy of creating second-tier colleges which led to the foundation of the National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE) at Limerick, with Dr Walsh appointed as Director of the Institute on 1 January 1972. The first students were enrolled in 1972 when the institute was opened by then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch. In the early years the billionaire philanthropist Chuck Feeney (through Atlantic Philanthropies) was a major donor to the University which has received millions in direct funding through the Atlantic Philanthropies foundation. The Shannon Development Company was also an early sup-porter of the project and its influence led to the creation of the National Technological Park beside the Institute after its foundation.

In 1976 to 1977 degrees from the NIHE Limerick were awarded by the National University of Ireland and it was a recognised college of the University for this time, from 1978 onwards the National Council for Educational Awards(NCEA) was the degree-awarding authority for the NIHE Limerick.

The College of Education was created in 1991 from the dissolved Thomond College of Education, Limerick that shared a common campus with the university. Thomond College of Education was founded in 1973 as the National College of Physical Education, and now forms the Department of Educational and Professional Studies that focuses on secondary education programmes. Mary Immaculate College, Limerick currently functions under the College of Education and focuses on primary education and arts programmes.

"Ireland's American University":

The university, and previously as the institute, synthesised many American ideas in education, including a cooperative education programme and grade point average marking. During the 1970s the limited state of Government finances led Dr. Walsh and his team to attract European Investment Bank and World Bank funding in addition to private and alumni donors at a time when Irish universities depended heavily on the State for funds and did not aggressively seek other avenues of finance.

In 1989 before becoming a university, the name Technological University of Limerick was seriously considered as a title for the new university, this being probably considered as a complement to the strength of the institutes courses in technology, or a derivative name of the proposed federal National Technological University which instead lead to the University of Limerick in its own right. Until the mid-1990s it operated a trimesterised academic term, then changed to US-style semesterisation.

In 2005 the university introduced a new corporate logo.

UL has been an active participant in the European Union's Erasmus programme since 1988 and now has a total of 207 partner institutions in 24 European countries. In addition, UL students may study at partner universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, China and Singapore.

UL formed a strategic alliance with National University of Ireland, Galway in 2010, allowing for shared resources.

Faculty:

The university has four faculties, these are:
Kemmy Business School
Faculty of Education & Health Sciences (including the Graduate Medical School)
Faculty of Science & Engineering
Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick is also linked to the University.

Students:

The university has a Students' Union representing the student body. The Union is presided over by five sabbatical officers - the President, the Education Officer, the Welfare Officer, the CSO (Campaigns and Services Officer), and the Communications Officer. Policy decisions are made by the sabbatical officers and the Class Reps Council.

The university also has a Postgraduate Students' Association, with a full-time sabbatical postgraduate president, which represents the postgraduate student body. It is one of only two Irish universities with such a position.

Clubs and Societies:

There are 60 student-run Clubs and Societies in the University, most of them are sporting clubs. The clubs are supported by the Students Union, the Sports Department and the Arts Office. More information regarding Clubs and Societies can be found here - UL Clubs and Societies.

Notable Alumni and Staff:

The university has had a number of internationally notable Alumni and members of staff since its foundation
Pat Cox, Irish politician, former President of the European Parliament
David Parnas, Canadian software engineering pioneer
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Irish musician and pianist
Nika Gilauri, Current Prime Minister of Georgia
Jean Butler, co-choreographer and dancer of Riverdance fame
Eddie O'Sullivan, former Ireland rugby coach
Pat Spillane, GAA commentator and former Kerry football player
Mary Lou McDonald, politician and former MEP

Rankings:

UL has one the highest employment rates for its students in Ireland, perhaps due to the Co-operative Education programme. UL is ranked 4th for attracting students who attain over 500 points in the Leaving Certificate however in contrast it has one of the lowest rates of first class or 2.1 honours degrees of Irish universities.. The University is the only college in Ireland awarded the maximum 5 stars for sports facilities.

UL is ranked 451th in the world and 8th in the Republic of Ireland by the THE-QS World University Rankings. UL's ranking is down on previous years and is in contrast to the other universities in Ireland which have made significant gains on world university league tables in recent years.

Science and Engineering:

The Materials & Surface Science Institute. The MSSI was established in 1998 and is a national centre of excellence that generates state-of-the-art fundamental research on topics of industrial significance in the fields of surface science and materials. The research strengths and interests of MSSI reside in four areas: (i) Nanomaterials (ii) Biomaterials (iii) Composite and Glass Materials (iv) Bio/Catalysis and Clean Technology.

The Interaction Design Centre (IDC) is an interdisciplinary research group in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems focused on the design, use and evaluation of information and communications technologies.

The LRC was established in 1995 as the Localisation Resources Centre at University College Dublin (UCD) and moved to the University of Limerick (UL) in 1999 where it was re-constituted as the Localisation Research Centre (LRC) as the information, research and educational centre for the localisation industry in Ireland.

The Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) is a research centre committed to conducting leading edge research on the challenges facing current and next generation enterprises. Staff associated with the centre have considerable research and practical experience in the modelling, scheduling and resource management of enterprise optimisation, design and implementation of integrated systems, product innovation and project management, and quality, reliability and productivity improvement tools.

The University hosts the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, Lero. Lero was established in November 2005 with support from Science Foundation Ireland's CSET (Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology) programme. It is a collaborative organisation, embracing the software engineering research activities in the University of Limerick (UL - lead partner), Dublin City University (DCU), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD).

The arts:

The University fosters the arts and is currently home to the: o Irish World Academy of Music and Dance - an internationally acclaimed centre for innovation and research in music and dance performance and scholarship o Irish Chamber Orchestra - Ireland's leading international chamber orchestra, funded by An Chomhairle Ealaíon, The Irish Arts Council o Daghdha Dance Company - Ireland's leading contemporary dance company funded by An Chomhairle Ealaíon, The Irish Arts Council All three bodies also engage in the commissioning and performance of new Irish music and dance.

The University is the permanent home of several Fine Art Collections. Some of its notable collections are: The National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland The Watercolour Society of Ireland Collection The Richard Wood Collection of Irish Landscape Paintings The O'Malley Sculpture Collection The Irish American Cultural Institute's O'Malley Collection The Armitage Collection.

The University Concert Hall (UCH) is the University's principal venue for the performing arts it is a 1,000 seat multi-purpose venue and was the first purpose built concert hall in the country.

The Bourn Vincent Gallery is the University's principal venue for temporary exhibitions with an ancillary programme of seminars, lectures and performances. The Gallery aims to enhance enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts of both Irish and international importance. It is particularly interested in contemporary practices. Since its esta-blishment, the Bourn Vincent Gallery has exhibited collections by August Sander, Barry and Philip Castle, a selection of pieces from Gordon Lambert's collection and hosts the annual exhibition of new additions to the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland and ev+a each year.

The University has an active policy of commissioning and acquiring exemplary works of art. The University's own Arts Collection includes some fine outdoor sculpture by international artists including Michael Warren, Peter Logan, Alexandra Wejchert, James McKenna, Tom Fitzpatrick, Antony Gormley and most recently Sean Scully. These sculp-tures have added significantly to the artistic and cultural ambience of the University.

Accommodation:

Many of the housing districts in close proximity to the University are in the majority populated by students, especially in the adjacent Castletroy area. In recent years, several large student apartment complexes have been built (about 15-20 mins walk from the University) under Section 50 tax incentives. The university is notable compared to other Irish universities in that a significant amount of accommodation is on-campus. There are five on-campus student villages, the most recently having been opened for residents in 2006.

The oldest is Plassey Village, situated opposite the university's main gate. This accommodates 424 students in terraced houses consisting of either four or eight bedrooms and a kitchen/living area. It is mostly occupied by first years. It was built between 1987 and 1992 in four phases. The village boasts a village hall and many small but beautiful gardens.

Kilmurry Village is the second oldest student village and is located in the east of the campus. It accommodates 540 students in six or eight bedroomed, terraced houses. It is the closest village to the University Arena, which has an Olympic standard 50 metre swimming pool. It was built between 1994 and 1997, in two phases.

Dromroe Village was completed in 2001 and is located on the south bank of the River Shannon. The first with high rise accommodation ,it houses 457 students in six, four or two bedroomed ensuite apartments.

Thomond Village was opened for the Autumn 2004 semester and comprised the first university buildings to be located on the north bank of the River Shannon, in County Clare. It has accommodation for 504 students in six, four, two or one bedroom apartments.

Cappavilla Village is the newest student village, opened in September 2006 on the North Bank, in close proximity to the new Health Sciences Building. An extension to Cappavilla opened in September 2007.

There is also accommodation in and around the university but not on campus. some can be five minutes away from university buildings others a 30 minute walk. Briarfield is an example of one of these, it can almost be classed student village as there is a high ratio of students compared to residents there.

The University Arena:

The University Arena, located on campus, on the banks of the river Shannon, is Ireland's largest indoor sports complex.

Open since 2002, it consists of the National 50m Swimming Pool which is the only water facility in Ireland which has the approval of FINA, the international swimming body, and is the first in the country to be built to Olympic standards.

The Arena's Indoor Sports Hall comprises 3,600 square metres laid out with four wood-sprung courts, catering for a variety of sports, a sprint track, an international 400m athletics track, and a 200m three-lane suspended jogging track. The facility also has a state-of-the-art cardiovascular and strength training centre, a weight-training room, team rooms, an aerobics studio and classroom areas. The Arena is often used by the Munster rugby team.

The €28m development was made possible through Government grant assistance of €7.6m, donations through the University of Limerick Foundation amounting to €6.9m, some €4m in contributions from students and significant commercial funding. Each year it caters for over 500,000 customers along with many international sports athletes and teams.

The University Arena will be host to the 2010 Special Olympics Ireland Games. The Games will take place over four days from Thursday, June 9 to Sunday June 13. In what will be one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events to take place in Ireland next year, 1,900 Special Olympics athletes from throughout the island of Ireland will travel to Limerick.

Expansion:

The Foundation Building, including the University Concert Hall (now home to the Irish Chamber Orchestra), and the new library and several other buildings were built in the 1990s. The years 2000-2004 saw the addition of the Materials & Surface Science Institute (MSSI) building, Dromroe Student Village, a large sports arena and, alongside that, Ireland's first Olympic-standard 50 metre swimming pool. In 2005 the Engineering Research Building and Millstream Courtyard buildings opened in a complex near the Foundation Building.

The university is constantly expanding, with the Kemmy Business School building completed alongside the Schuman Building. This will be the first business school in the world to have a live trading floor present. Several new buildings have opening on the north bank of the River Shannon. The "University Bridge", officially opened in late 2004, provides road and pedestrian access to what is planned as a complete second "North Bank" campus. Thomond Village was the first facility on the North Bank, opening in 2004, and was followed by the Health Sciences Building in 2005. A second bridge, this one pedestrian only, just after being completed (November 2007) between the North and South Banks from the Millstream Courtyard to the Health Sciences Building. Cappavilla Village was completed mid-2006 on the North Bank, and a building for the Irish World Music Centre (currently located in the Foundation Building basement) is due to be completed soon. Construction of this building started in May 2007. The university owns more land on the north bank of the Shannon and it hopes to expand the North Bank campus to the size of the original campus.