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3 October 2022  

Mission and Governance


As a unique and historical focal point in Irish higher education, NUI serves the interests of the member institutions, by providing services to them and to their graduates. Related to this, NUI promotes the national and international standing of the National University of Ireland as a whole, by undertaking activities related to scholarship, the advancement of higher education and the cultural and intellectual life of Ireland.

Governance: NUI Senate structure and composition

The NUI currently comprises four Constituent Universities, two Recognised Colleges and five Colleges of a Constituent University. Each institution within the NUI federation has its own Governing Authority; the overall Governing Authority of the University is the NUI Senate and headed by the Chancellor.
The Universities Act, 1997, which came into effect on 16 June 1997, redefined the nature and role of the National University of Ireland. It reconstituted the Senate, which is the Governing Body of the University, with a membership of thirty-eight, as follows:

  • The Chancellor
  • The Chief Officers of the Constituent Universities
  • The Registrar of the University
  • Four members nominated by the Government
  • Four persons elected by each of the Constituent Universities
  • Eight members elected by Convocation
  • Four co-opted members

Under the Act, the Senate of the National University of Ireland has functions and responsibilities in relation to the following:

  • determining basic matriculation requirements; reviewing the content and teaching of courses;
  • appointing external examiners; awarding degrees and other qualifications.

The 1997 Act also reconstituted the three Constituent Colleges of the National University of Ireland, and the Recognised College, St Patrick's College, Maynooth as Constituent Universities.

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, which came into effect in November 2012, defines the University as a “designated awarding body”. As such, the Act requires the University to establish quality assurance arrangements in respect of “linked providers” that deliver educational programmes leading to awards of the University. The Act also provides for periodic review of the University’s quality assurance procedures by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, the Authority established under the Act to oversee quality assurance of further and higher education and training in Ireland.

The Chancellor

The Chancellor is the head and chief officer of the University. The Chancellor holds office during his/her life or until his/her resignation.

The Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor is the chief executive officer of the University. In 1914, the Senate decided that the President of each of the Constituent Colleges should be elected to the position of Vice-Chancellor, in rotation.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellors

A Pro-Vice-Chancellor may act as Vice-Chancellor during a vacancy in that office, and may act for the Vice-Chancellor during his/her absence.

The Senate

Under the provisions of the Charter of the National University of Ireland, the Governing Body of the University is styled ‘The Senate’

Powers and Functions of the Senate

Subject to the provisions of the Irish Universities Act 1908, the Charter of the National University of Ireland, the University Statutes, the Universities Act 1997, and the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, the Senate, as Governing Body of the University, shall exercise all the powers and discretions of the University and shall regulate and determine all matters concerning the University. Section 47 of the Universities Act, 1997, (‘Relationship of Constituent Universities to National University of Ireland’) assigns the following specific functions to the Senate:

(i) The Senate of the National University of Ireland shall determine the basic matriculation requirements for the Constituent Universities but each University may prescribe additional requirements generally or in respect of particular faculties of the University.
(ii) Each Constituent University shall inform the Senate of the courses established from time to time by that University and the Senate may establish a committee for the purpose of reviewing the content and teaching of the courses and may appoint external examiners to assist in any review.
(iii) The results of a review conducted by a committee shall be communicated by the Senate to the University concerned.
(iv) The Senate shall appoint such and so many external examiners to a Constituent University, including examiners appointed for the purpose of subsection (2), as that University shall from time to time recommend and the functions of those external examiners shall be determined by the Senate, with the concurrence of the University.
(v) The degrees and other qualifications awarded by a Constituent University shall be degrees and qualifications of the National University of Ireland and shall be so designated.
(vi) Where the President or any other employee of a Constituent College was appointed by the National University of Ireland, the powers and functions of that University in respect of his or her removal from office shall, notwithstanding anything in this Act, remain in force in relation to that person’.

Composition of the Senate

In accordance with Section 45(2) of the Universities Act, 1997, the Senate consists of thirty-eight members as follows:

(a) The Chancellor and the Registrar of the University and the Chief Officers of the Constituent Universities
(b) Four persons nominated by the Government, two of whom shall be women and two men
(c) Four persons elected by each of: University College Dublin, University College Cork, University of Galway, and National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
(d) Eight members of Convocation elected by Convocation, four of whom shall be women and four men
(e) Not more than four persons co-opted to be Members of the Senate by the Senate, as constituted by the Members as referred to in (a), (b), (c) and (d) above’.

Membership of the Senate

The Term of office of the current Senate ends on 31 October 2022

Dr Maurice Manning MA, DLitt

Dr Patrick O’Leary BSc, PhD

Chief Officers of the Constituent Universities
Professor Mark Rogers, B.A. (Mod) Nat Sci., Ph.D. Acting  President, University College Dublin
Professor John O’Halloran, BSc Zoology, PhD, DSc, Vice-Chancellor, President, University College Cork
Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, BComm, DipPrAcc, PhD (Leeds), CA (Ireland) Pro-Vice-Chancellor, President University of Galway
Professor Eeva Leinonen BSc, MPhil, PhD, Docent, DSc (Honoris Causa) Pro-Vice-Chancellor, President, Maynooth University

Nominated by the Government
Professor Patrick Clancy
Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich
Mr John Hurley
Dr Deirdre Lillis

Elected by the Governing Authority, University College Dublin:
Professor Joe Brady
Professor Pat Guiry
Professor Imelda Maher
Professor Dermot Moran

Elected by the Governing Authority, University College Cork:
Mr Owen J. Dinneen
Dr Marian McCarthy
Dr Valerie Mannix Boyle
Mr Dermot Breen

Elected by the Governing Authority, University of Galway:
Professor Pól Ó Dochtartaigh, PhD
Mr Conor Fottrell
Dr Rachel Hilliard
Professor Michal Molcho

Elected by the Governing Authority, Maynooth University:
Professor Jim Walsh
Professor Marian Lyons
Professor Thomas O’Connor
Professor Marie McLoughlin

Elected by Convocation, 03 October 2017:
Mr James Doorley
Ms Cliona de Bhaldraithe Marsh
Mr Tommy Francis
Dr Helen Gallagher
Ms Catherine Harney
Mr Noel McGrath
Mr John P. O’Donovan
Ms Linda M.P. O’Shea Farren

Professor Professor Stephen Byrne, Deputy President and Registrar, University College Cork
Professor Aidan Mulkeen Vice-President Academic, Registrar and Deputy President, Maynooth University
Professor Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive/Registrar, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland


Under the provisions of the original Charter, Convocation of the National University of Ireland consists of the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the Members of Senate, the Professors and Lecturers and the Graduates of the University.

Powers of Convocation

  • To elect a person to be Chancellor of the University in succession to the present or any subsequent Chancellor
  • To elect its own Chairperson, who shall, in the absence of the Chancellor, be entitled to preside at its meetings
  • To elect eight of its own members as its representatives on the Senate;
  • To discuss and pronounce an opinion on any matter whatsoever relating to the University, including any matters referred to it by the Senate.
  • To make from time to time Regulations for governing its proceedings, subject to the provisions of the Charter and of the Statutes, and to the Regulations of the University
  • To make representations to the Senate on any matter affecting the University

Officers of Convocation

Clerk: Helen Scanlon

Convocation Register

In accordance with the provisions of the University Statutes, the NUI is obliged to maintain a register of all graduates of the university - the Convocation Register. As all graduates are automatically registered, there is no special registration procedure.

Codes of Conduct for Members of NUI Senate and Staff of the University


Annual Report on Protected Disclosures

No disclosures were made in 2021 under the Protected Disclosures (PD) Act 2014.