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The pageant of the world's first Institue of Technology: the Berg-Schola, Selmecbánya, Austro-Hungarian Empire,Hungary, today in Slovakia.
The Coat Arms of University of Miskolc, est. 1735 Berg-Schola Selmecbánya, Hungary.

Institute of technology, and polytechnic, are designations employed in a wide range of learning institutions awarding different types of degrees and operating often at variable levels of the educational system. It may be any institution of higher education and advanced research or vocational education, specializing in science, engineering and technology or different sorts of technical subjects. It may also refer to a secondary education school focused in vocational training. The term polytechnic comes from the Greek πολύ (polú or polý) meaning "many" and τεχνικός (tekhnikós) meaning "arts". The term institute of technology, for its part, is often abbreviated IT; the term is not to be confused with information technology.

While the terms institute of technology and polytechnic are synonymous, the preference concerning which one is the preferred term varies from country to country.


Institutes of technology versus polytechnics

The institutes of technology and polytechnics have been existing at least since the 18th century, but became popular after World War II with the expansion of technical education, associated with the new needs created by industrialization. The world's first institution of technology the Berg-Schola (today University of Miskolc[1]) was founded by the Court Chamber of Vienna in Selmecbánya Hungary 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 University of Braunschweig (founded in 1745 as "Collegium Carolinum"). Another exception is the Ecole 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. However this early "Technology schools" were not parts of the Higher Education in the beginnings. The so-called BME University of Hungary (Founded as: "Institutum Geometrico-Hydrotechnicum" in 1782) is considered the oldest institution of technology in the world, which has university rank and structure. Sometimes, also institutes of technology are engineering and science research intense universities when they meet conditions necessary to be formally considered a university: autonomy to offer masters and doctoral degrees and independence as research institutions. In the USA famous examples include Caltech, MIT, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Rochester Institute of Technology. In India, Indian Institutes of Technology are specific elite institutes which were based on a post WWII recommendation for industrialization. Those are highly regarded full chartered universities with a long history.

In several countries, like Germany, Switzerland and Turkey, institutes of technology and polytechnics are institutions of higher education, and have been accredited to award academic degrees and doctorates. Famous examples are the ETH Zurich, İYTE 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 Polytechnics offered university equivalent degrees from Bachelors, Masters and PhD that were validated by the Council for National Academic awards. In 1992 UK Polytechnics were designated as universities. In Ireland the term institute of technology is 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 another of other Institutes of Technology have delegated authority from HETAC to make awards to and including Masters degree level—Level 9 of the National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ)--for all areas of study and Doctorate level in a number of others.

In a number of countries, although being today generally considered similar institutions of higher learning across many countries, polytechnics and institutes of technology used to have a quite different statute among each other, its teaching competences and organizational history. In many cases polytechnic were a former designation for a vocational institution, before it has been granted the exclusive right to award academic degrees and can be truly called an institute of technology. A number of polytechnics providing higher education is simply a result of a formal upgrading from their original and historical role as intermediate technical education schools. In some situations, former polytechnics or other non-university institutions have emerged solely through an administrative change of statutes, which often included a name change with the introduction of new designations like institute of technology, polytechnic university, university of applied sciences, or university of technology for marketing purposes.[3][4] Such emergence of so many upgraded polytechnics, former vocational education and technical schools converted into more university-like institutions has caused concern where the lack of specialized intermediate technical professionals lead to industrial skill shortages in some fields, being also associated to an increase of the graduate unemployment rate. This is mostly the case in those countries, where the education system is not controlled by the state and everybody can grant degrees. Evidence have also shown a decline in the general quality of teaching and graduate's preparation for the workplace, due to the fast-paced conversion of that technical institutions to more advanced higher level institutions.[5][6]

Mentz, Kotze and Van der Merwe (2008)[7] argues that all the tools are in place to promote the debate on the place of technology in higher education in general and in Universities of Technology specifically. The aspects of this debate can follow the following lines: • To what degree is technology defined as a concept? • What is the scope of technology discourse? • What is the place and relation of science with technology? • How useful is the Mitcham framework in thinking about technology in South Africa? • Can a measure of cooperation as opposed to competition be achieved amongst higher education institutions? • Who ultimately is responsible for vocational training and what is the role of technology in this?


In the so called Latin American docta the main higher institution advocates to the study of technology is the National Technological University which has brand ramifications through all the country geographic space in the way of Regional Faculties.




During the 1970s to early 1990s, the term was used to describe state owned and funded technical schools that offered both vocational and higher education. They were part of the College of Advanced Education system. In the 1990s most of these merged with existing universities, or formed new ones of their own. These new universities often took the title University of Technology, for marketing rather than legal purposes. AVCC report The most prominent such university in each state founded the Australian Technology Network a few years later.


Since the mid 1990s, the term has been applied to some technically minded technical and further education (TAFE) institutes. These primarily offer vocational education, although some are beginning to offer higher education. This usage of the term is most prevalent in NSW and the ACT. The new terminology is apt given that this category of institution are becoming very much like the institutes of the 1970s-1990s period.

In Tasmania in 2009 the old college system and TAFE Tasmania have started a 3 year restructure to become the Tasmanian Polytechnic, Tasmanian Skills Institute and Tasmanian Academy

In the higher education sector, there are five designated Universities of Technology in Australia:


The world's first technical institute the Berg-Schola was founded in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1735 by the Chamber of Vienna.

  • IST Austria:

The Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria is a new Institute dedicated to basic research and graduate education in the Natural Sciences, located in the Vienna Woods

  • AIT:Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, 2009.
  • Graz University of Technology: Public engineering school, also known as the Erzherzog Johann University. Fields of study offered include civil, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering fields.
  • CTA: Vienna University of Technology - CTA

Belgium and the Netherlands

Hogeschool is used in Belgium and hogere technische school (HTS) in the Netherlands. The hogeschool has many similarities to the Fachhochschule in the German language areas and to the ammattikorkeakoulu in Finland.

Hogeschool institutions in the Flemish Community of Belgium (such as the Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel) are currently undergoing a process of academization. They form associations with a university and integrate research into the curriculum, which will allow them to deliver academic master's degrees.

In the Netherlands, four former institutes of technology have become universities over the past decades. These are the current three Technical Universities (at Delft, Eindhoven and Enschede), plus the former agricultural institute in Wageningen. A list of all hogescholen in the Netherlands, including some which might be called polytechnics, can be found here.


State Technical University in Brest, Belarus


In Canada, there are "College", "Institute of Technology", "Polytechnic Institute", and "Polytechnic University" that offers a wide range of education choices. With various certificates, diplomas, and degrees varies from different colleges, institutes and universities across the country.

Czech Republic


An ammattikorkeakoulu is the common term in Finland, as is the Swedish alternative "yrkeshögskola" – their focus is on studies leading to bachelor degree, particularly in technology. After January 1, 2006, some Finnish institutes of technology switched the English term "polytechnic" to the term "university of applied sciences" in their official names. The ammattikorkeakoulu has many similarities to the hogeschool in Belgium and in the Netherlands and to the Fachhochschule in the German language areas.

Some Finnish polytechnics are:

a complete list may be found in List of polytechnics in Finland

French language areas

Instituts de technologie (grandes écoles)

Collegiate universities grouping several engineering schools or multi-site clusters of French grandes écoles provide sciences and technology curricula as autonomous higher education engineering institutes. They include :

They provide science and technology master degrees and doctoral degrees.

Universités technologiques / instituts universitaires de technologie / polytechs

France education system also includes three universities of technology:

In addition, France's education system includes many institutes of technology, embedded within most French universities. They are referred-to as institut universitaire de technologie (IUT). Instituts universitaires de technologie provide undergraduate technology curricula. Polytech institutes, embedded as a part of eleven French universities provide both undergraduate and graduate engineering curricula.

In the French speaking part of Switzerland exists also the term haute école specialisée for a type of institution called Fachhochschule in the German speaking part of the country. (see below)

Écoles polytechniques

Higher education systems, that are influenced by the French education system set at the end of the 18th century, use a terminology derived by reference to the French École polytechnique. Such terms include Écoles Polytechniques (Algeria, Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland, Tunisia), Escola Politécnica (Brasil, Spain), Polytechnicum (Eastern Europe).

In French language, higher education refers to écoles polytechniques, providing science and engineering curricula:

German language areas

Technische Universität (abbreviation: TU) and Fachhochschule (abbreviation: FH) are the common terms for universities of technology or universities of applied sciences, respectively, in a number of countries with German influences, these are Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland - the term Fachhochschule is now officially translated as "university of applied sciences" to respect their role. Polytechnic-type institutions are widespread in this part of Europe. For example, Germany has 159 Fachhochschule-institutions.

There is a differentiation between a Technische Universität (or Technische Hochschule) and a Fachhochschule. A Technische Universität focuses more on research, has a much stronger emphasis on teaching theoretical background knowledge and can grant doctoral degrees as well as the Diplom degree, Bachelor's and Master's degrees. The largest and most renowned Technische Universitäten in Germany are members of TU9 German Institutes of Technology.

A Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences and Arts is a type of German institution of higher education that emerged in the early 1970s and differs from a traditional university mainly through its practical orientation. Subjects taught at a Fachhochschule include engineering, computer science, business & management, arts & design, communication studies, social service and other professional fields. The Fachhochschule represents a close relationship between higher education and the employment system. The students’ up-to-date knowledge of the field enhances their preparation for their profession. Their practical orientation makes them very attractive for employers. The Fachhochschule can grant bachelor's, Diplom (FH) and master's degrees. Through the Bologna process, the Bachelor's, Master's degrees have been made equivalent[citation needed].

The following list contains the most important Technische Uiversitäten as well as important Fachhochschulen in alphabetial order.


Mainarticle:Polytechnics , Higher Technological Educational Institutes

In Greece there are 2 "Polytechnics" part of the public higher education in Greece and they confer a 5-year Diplom Uni (300E.C.T.S - I.S.C.E.D. 5A), the National Technical University of Athens and the Technical University of Crete.

On the other hand, there are Greek Higher Technological Educational Institutes (Ανώτατα Τεχνολογικά Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα - Α.T.E.I). After the 2001 Higher Education Reform Act (Ν. 2916/2001 - Ν. 3549/2007) the Technological Educational Institute constitute, a parallel, equivalent and complementary part of the public higher education in Greece. They confer 4-year Bachelor's degree (Diplom FH) (240E.C.T.S - I.S.C.E.D. 5A).

Hong Kong

See also: Education in Hong Kong and List of universities in Hong Kong

The first polytechnic in Hong Kong is The Hong Kong Polytechnic, established in 1972 through upgrading the Hong Kong Technical College (Government Trade School before 1947). A second polytechnic, the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, was founded in 1984. These polytechnics awards diplomas, higher diplomas, as well as academic degrees. Like the United Kingdom, the two polytechnics were granted university status in 1994 and 1995 respectively, and renamed The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the City University of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, a university with a focus in applied science, engineering and business, was founded in 1991.


  • The world's first Institute of Technology the Berg-Schola established in Hungary ( today University of Miskolc the second Hungarian university of technology, established in 1949 as Technical University of Heavy Industry in Miskolc ). It was founded in Selmecbánya as the Royal Hungarian Academy of Mining and Forestry in 1735.
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, one of the oldest universities of technology of the world is located in Budapest (est. 1782).


A polytechnic is a technical institute which imparts technical education in India. Polytechnics are not affiliated to any university. They offer three year duration diploma courses in engineering. The courses offered in polytechnics can be said to be abridged version of degree courses offered in engineering colleges in India. The courses are designed in such a way that the students are able to perform basic engineering tasks. The diploma holders in engineering are generally employed as supervisors or junior engineers in the companies. The minimum qualification for admission to polytechnics is pass in SSLC (Standard Tenth). The polytechnics are affiliated to state technical boards. The All India Council of Technical Education is the regulating authority for polytechnics in India.

After successfully completing their diploma in polytechnic, students can gain lateral entry to engineering degree (under graduate) courses called BE which are conducted by engineering colleges affiliated to universities.

Polytechnics in India



  • Tehran Polytechnic or Amirkabir University of Technology is a Full technology university in Tehran. Tehran Polytechnic
  • Isfahan Institute of Technology is located in Isfahan.
    • Faculty of Technology and Engineering of Shiraz University.
    • Faculty of Engineering (Fanni) of Tehran university.
    • Faculty of Technology and Engineering of Mashhad university.
    • Faculty of Technology and Engineering of Tabriz university.
    • Faculty of Technology and Engineering of Arak University.
  • Sharif University of Technology and Engineering- Tehran.
  • University of Science and Technology- Tehran.
  • Khaje Nasir University of Science and Engineering.
  • Sahand University of Technology- Tabriz.


Also See Iraqi Technical Colleges and Institutes


The Republic of Ireland has an "Institute of Technology" system, formerly referred to as Regional Technical College (RTCs) system - the latter term is still the correct legal term for the colleges when used generically or collectively. These institutions have a similar number of students attending as at Irish universities, and offer subdegree and degree level studies. Some institutions have "delegated authority" that allows them to make awards in their own name, after authorization by the Higher Education & Training Awards Council.

Dublin Institute of Technology developed separately from the Regional Technical College system, and after several decades of association with the University of Dublin, Trinity College it acquired the authority to confer its own degrees.

See also: Community College


Italian language areas

In Italy the term Politecnico is used to refer to a university of applied sciences. Currently there are three Politecnici in the country:

In the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland the term Scuola Universitaria Professionale is used for the type of institution called Fachhochschule in the German-speaking part of the country. (See German language areas, above.)



See the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Imperial College of Engineering, forerunner of The University of Tokyo's engineering faculty. See also Kyushu Institute of Technology, Osaka Institute of Technology and Nagoya Institute of Technology.

See also Technical education in Japan and Colleges of Technology in Japan.


See also: Education in Malaysia.

New Zealand

New Zealand polytechnics are established under the Education Act 1989 as amended, and are considered state-owned tertiary institutions along with universities, colleges of education, and wānanga; there is today often much crossover in courses and qualifications offered between all these types of Tertiary Education Institutions. Some have officially taken the title 'institute of technology' which is a term recognized in government strategies equal to that of the term 'polytechnic'. One has opted for the name 'Universal College of Learning' (UCOL), and another 'Unitec New Zealand'. These are legal names but not recognized terms like 'polytechnic' or 'institute of technology'. Many if not all now grant at least bachelor-level degrees.

Since the 1990s, there has been consolidation in New Zealand's state-owned tertiary education system. In the polytechnic sector: Wellington Polytechnic amalgamated with Massey University. The Central Institute of Technology explored a merger with the Waikato Institute of Technology, which was abandoned, but later, after financial concerns, controversially amalgamated with Hutt Valley Polytechnic, which in turn became Wellington Institute of Technology. Some smaller polytechnics in the North Island, such as Waiarapa Polytechnic, amalgamated with UCOL. (The only other amalgamations have been in the colleges of education.)

The Auckland University of Technology is the only polytechnic to have been elevated to university status; while Unitec has had repeated attempts blocked by government policy and consequent decisions; Unitec has not been able to convince the courts to overturn these decisions.

See also: List of polytechnics and institutes of technology in New Zealand and Education in New Zealand


The Polytechnic institutes in Pakistan, offer a diploma spanning three years in different branches. Students are admitted to the diploma program based on their results in the 10th grade standardized exams. The main purpose of Polytechnic Institutes is to train people in various trades.

These institutes are located throughout Pakistan and have been in service since early 1950s.

After successfully completing a diploma at a polytechnic, students can gain lateral entry to engineering degree (under graduate) courses called BE, which are conducted by engineering colleges affiliated to universities.



Politechnika (translated as a "technical university" or "university of technology") is a main kind of technical university name in Poland. There are some biggest Polytechnic in Poland:


The designation "Institute of Technology" is not applied at all, being meaningless in Portugal. However, there are higher education educational institutions in Portugal since the 1980s, which are called polytechnics. After 1998 they were upgraded to institutions which are allowed to confer bachelor's degrees (the Portuguese licenciatura). Before then, they only awarded short-cycle degrees which were known as bacharelatos and didn't provide further education. After the Bologna Process in 2007, they have been allowed to offer 2nd cycle (masters's) degrees to its students. The polytechnical higher education system provides a more practical training and is profession-oriented, while the university higher education system has a strong theoretical basis and is highly research-oriented.


See also: List of institutions of higher learning in Russia


Singapore retains a system close to that applying in the United Kingdom from 1969–1992, distinguishing between polytechnics and universities, but also including a third component, the institute of technical education (ITE). Under this system, most Singaporean students sit for their 'O' Level examinations after a four or five years of education in secondary school, and apply for a place at either ITE, a polytechnic or a Pre-university centre (a junior college or the Millennia Institute, a centralized institute). A few secondary schools are now offering a six-year program which leads directly to university entrance.

Polytechnics offer three year diploma courses in subjects such as information technology, engineering subjects and other vocational fields. There are a total of 5 polytechnics in Singapore. They are namely:

The institute of technical education offers shorter programmes up to 2 year certificates in a wide variety of fields, ranging from beauty therapy to nursing, electronics, business and information technology. There are currently three colleges within ITE. One of them is a recently opened large campus while the other two are each composed of five smaller campuses which will be replaced in the coming years by a large campus for each college. The three colleges are:

See also: Education in Singapore

Sri Lanka


South Africa

South Africa is in a process of transforming its "higher education landscape". Historically a division in South Africa between Universities and Technikons (polytechnics) as well between institutions servicing particular racial and language groupings. In 1993 Technikons were afforded the power to award certain technology degrees. Beginning in 2004 former Technikons have either been merged with traditional Universities to form Comprehensive Universities or have become Universities of Technology, however the Universities of Technology have not to date acquired all of the traditional rights and privileges of a University (such as the ability to confer a wide range of degrees).

In an article by Jan Mentz, Paula Kotze and Alta van der Merwe (2008) [9] the authors looks at the role of Universities of Technologies after the merger.

See also: List of universities in South Africa


Most of Thailand's institutes of technology were developed from technical colleges, in the past could not grant bachelor's degrees; today, however, they are university level institutions, some of which can grant degrees to the doctoral level. Examples are Pathumwan Institute of Technology (developed from Pathumwan Technical School), King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (Nondhaburi Telecommunications Training Centre), and King Mongkut's Institute of Technology North Bangkok (Thai-German Technical School).

There are two former institutes of technology, which already changed their name to "University of Technology": Rajamangala University of Technology (formerly Institute of Technology and Vocational Education) and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (Thonburi Technology Institute).

Institutes of technology with different origins are Asian Institute of Technology, which developed from SEATO Graduate School of Engineering, and Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, an engineering school of Thammasat University.

See also: Education in Thailand


See also: Education in Turkey

United Kingdom

Polytechnics were tertiary education teaching institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Polytechnics offered university equivalent degrees (Bachelors, Masters, PhD) validated by the Council for National Academic Awards CNAA. The comparable institutions in Scotland were collectively referred to as Central Institutions. Britain's first Polytechnic, the Royal Polytechnic Institution later known as the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster) was established in 1838 at Regent Street in London and its goal was to popularize engineering and science knowledge in Victorian Britain.

In 1956 some colleges of technology received the designation College of Advanced Technology. They became universities in the 1960s. The designation "Institute of Technology" was occasionally used by polytechnics, (Bolton and Bradford), Central Institutions (Dundee, Robert Gordon's), and postgraduate universities, (Cranfield and Wessex), most of which later adopted the designation University, and there were two "Institutes of Science and Technology": UMIST and UWIST of the University of Wales. Loughborough University was called Loughborough University of Technology from 1966 to 1996, the only institution in the UK to have had such a designation.

United States

A handful of American universities include the phrases "Institute of Technology", "Polytechnic Institute", "Polytechnic University", or similar phrasing in their names; these are generally research-intensive universities with a focus on engineering, science and technology. Conversely, schools dubbed "technical colleges" or "technical institutes" generally provide post-secondary training in technical and mechanical fields focusing on training vocational skills primarily at a community college level—parallel and sometimes equivalent to the first two years at a bachelor's-granting institution.


Institutes of technology in Venezuela were developed in the 1950s as an option for post-Secondary education in technical and scientific courses, after the polytechnic French concepts. At that time, technical education was considered essential for the development of a sound middle class economy.

Nowadays, most of the Institutos de Tecnología are privately run businesses, with varying degrees of quality. They are widely regarded, sometimes incorrectly, as inferior to the university education.

Most of these institutes award diplomas after three or three and a half years of education. Few, if any Institutos de Tecnología have any research facilities.


After the communists took control of Hanoi in 1954, with support from Soviet Union, many new universities were built:

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Berg-Schola, a School of Mining and Metallurgy
  2. ^ Report of the Delegated Authority Evaluation Group on the Cork Institute of Technology
  3. ^ Polytechnic to change its name, By Desie Heita, The Namibia Economist, Retrieved June 2006.
  4. ^ Name change on the cards for APU, 2006 Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom. Retrieved June 2006.
  5. ^ "Producing New Workers: quality, equality and employability in higher education - Quality in Higher Education, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2001", Louise Morley, University of London Institute of Education. Retrieved June 2006.
  6. ^ First destination graduate employment as key performance indicator: outcomes assessment perspectives, Prof. Johan Bruwer, unit for institutional planning and research, Cape Technikon, South Africa, November 1998. Retrieved June 2006.
  7. ^ Mentz, J., Kotzé, P., Van der Merwe, A. (2008). Searching for the Technology in University of Technology. South African Computer Journal, Vol 42, December 2008, p. 29 - 37.
  8. ^ Research Strategy Paper (german) (Access: 27. December 2009)
  9. ^ Mentz, J., Kotzé, P., Van der Merwe, A. (2008). Searching for the Technology in University of Technology. South African Computer Journal, Vol 42, December 2008, p. 29 - 37.

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