Limerick is an important centre of higher education in Ireland.
Technical and continuation education within the city traces its beginning back to the formation of the Limerick Athenaeum Society in 1852, marking the foundation of the Limerick Institute of Technology. The Society's aims included "the promotion of Literature, Science, Art and Music".
Today, Limerick is home to a number of higher-education institutions including the University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology and Mary Immaculate College and has a student population of over 20,000.
The University of Limerick (UL), has a student population of over 13,000, and is about 5 km east of the city centre in the suburb of Castletroy. It was established as the National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE) in 1972, and in 1989 was the first university to be established since the foundation of the State in 1922. It is notable for its programs of engineering, information technology, materials science, sports science, humanities, teacher education, social sciences and music. In 2007, the university opened a medical school. The Irish World Music Centre specialises in traditional music and dance, and UL is host to the Irish Chamber Orchestra. The campus includes a 50m Olympic-standard swimming complex, the first to be established in Ireland. The University has one of the longest footbridges in Europe, called the "Living Bridge", designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects of London. Thomond College of Education, Limerick was a successful teacher training college for secondary level and was integrated into the university in 1991.
Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) has a student population of 7,000 and is a centre for undergraduate and postgraduate education in business, engineering, information technology, humanities, science and art education. The main campus is located at Moylish Park, about 3 kilometres north-west of the city centre, and the School of Art & Design is located on campuses at Clare Street and George's Quay. Additional facilities and outreach centres are located at O'Connell Street and in Ennis, Co. Clare and LIT has two campuses in Co. Tipperary, LIT Thurles and LIT Clonmel. These were formerly the campuses of the Tipperary Institute which merged with LIT in 2011.
LIT was originally established in 1852 as a School of Ornamental Art. In the mid 1970s it was incorporated as The Limerick College of Art, Commerce & Technology (CoACT) and achieved the designation of a Regional Technical College (RTC) in 1993 and finally an Institute of Technology in 1997. The Institute has a strong sporting ethos, which is not surprising given its location adjacent to Thomond Park and the Gaelic Grounds. It has a strong focus on business incubation, having operations in several enterprise centres: The National Franchise Centre; Croom Community Enterprise Centre; Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre (TCEC); The Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre (HEAC). Two further enterprise centres, the Enterprise and Research Centre, Clonmel and the Irish Fashion Incubator Limited (IFIL) will be added to its unique "Enterprise Ladder" in 2013. LIT is also home to the Millennium Theatre, a popular northside venue for shows and concerts.
Mary Immaculate College is an education and arts college located just south-west of the city centre. The main focus is on the education of primary-level teachers.
Griffith College Limerick (GCL) is a private college in Limerick. The college was established in 2006 when the Mid West Business Institute was acquired by Griffith College. The college runs full-time and part-time courses in accountancy, business, law, engineering, computing and IT and has a range of part-time courses available.
Primary and secondary education in the city is organised in a similar fashion to the rest of Ireland. The City of Limerick Vocational Education Committee (CLVEC) provides education services for over 10,000 learners in the city at secondary and further education levels. It also runs Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, an all Irish language secondary school. The other main secondary schools in the city are Castletroy College, Crescent College Comprehensive, St. Nessan's, and Villiers Church of Ireland school, which are all unisex. Ard Scoil Rís, St. Clements Redemptorist College, CBS Sexton Street and St Munchin's College are boys-only schools and Laurel Hill, The Presentation, Ard Scoil Mhuire and Scoil Carmel are girls-only schools.
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