Institutes of technology

The institutes of technology and polytechnics have been in existence since at least the 18th century, but became popular after World War II with the expansion of engineering and applied science education, associated with the new needs created by industrialization. The world’s first institution of technology, the Berg-Schola (today its legal successor is the University of Miskolc[1]), was founded by the Court Chamber of Vienna in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary (now Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia), in 1735 in order to train specialists of precious metal and copper mining according to the requirements of the industrial revolution in Hungary. The oldest German Institute of Technology is the Braunschweig University of Technology, founded in 1745 as “Collegium Carolinum”. Another exception is the École Polytechnique, which has educated French élites since its foundation in 1794. In some cases, polytechnics or institutes of technology are engineering schools or technical colleges.

In several countries, like Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Turkey, institutes of technology are institutions of higher education and have been accredited to award academic degrees and doctorates. Famous examples are the Istanbul Technical University, ETH Zurich, İYTE, Delft University of Technology and RWTH Aachen, all considered universities.


In countries like Iran, Finland, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore or the United Kingdom, there is often a significant and confused distinction between polytechnics and universities. In the UK a binary system of higher education emerged consisting of universities (research orientation) and polytechnics (engineering and applied science and professional practice orientation). Polytechnics offered university equivalent degrees mainly in STEM subjects from bachelor’s, master’s and PhD that were validated and governed at the national level by the independent UK Council for National Academic Awards. In 1992 UK polytechnics were designated as universities which meant they could award their own degrees. The CNAA was disbanded. The UK’s first polytechnic, the Royal Polytechnic Institution (now the University of Westminster), was founded in 1838 in Regent Street, London. In Ireland the term “institute of technology” is the more favored synonym of a “regional technical college” though the latter is the legally correct term; however, Dublin Institute of Technology is a university in all but name as it can confer degrees in accordance with law, Cork Institute of Technology[2] and other Institutes of Technology have delegated authority from HETAC to make awards to and including master’s degree level — Level 9 of the Republic of Ireland’s National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ) — for all areas of study and Doctorate level in a number of others.

Departments that are included in IOT