History of St Mary’s University College

The origins of the College can be traced back to 1900 when the Dominican Sisters opened St Mary’s Training College on the present Falls Road campus with an enrolment of 100 women students. For nearly 50 years after that, the college was concerned with the education of women students and their preparation for teaching in primary schools.

In 1948, four-year courses for post-primary teachers were introduced and, by arrangement with Queen’s University, selected students could follow a combined course of university study and professional training.

In 1949 a men's department was established at Trench House. In 1961 it ceased to be the men's department of St Mary’s Training College and was constituted St Joseph’s Training College.

In 1968 the Senate of Queen’s University granted St Mary’s and St Joseph’s recognition for the instruction of matriculated students of the university in courses leading to the degree of Bachelor of Education.

In the 1970s, however, there was a decline in teacher education when the government decided, in response to falling school enrolments, to reduce the supply of teachers, and the Catholic bishops decided to amalgamate St Mary’s and St Joseph’s.

The new college, called St Mary’s University College, came formally into existence in September 1985.

From 1994 to 1996, a major programme of building and refurbishment was undertaken on the Falls Road campus. In June 1996 Trench House closed its doors for the last time, and the entire College was relocated on the newly extended and enhanced Falls Road campus.

Photograph of student teachers