The obects and functions of the Institutes of Technology are established in legislation and direct the mission of Waterford Institute of Technology. Under law (specifically the Institutes of Technology Act 2006), the principal function of Waterford Institute of Technology is "to provide vocational and technical education and training for the economic, technological, scientific, commercial, industrial, social and cultural development of the State with particular reference to the region served by the college". WIT was founded in 1970 as a Regional Technological College (RTC) and became an Institute of Technology in the late 1990s.
WIT provides education and training programmes at levels across the National Framework of Qualifications including PhD. It does so in multiple academic areas, not only science and technology, and fulfills its mission, particularly to its region, by offering educational opportunities in Arts and Humanities, Business, Engineering, Science, Health and many other areas. WIT has multiple areas of research excellence and has attracted significant funding in a range of domains. WIT partners with myriad academic institutions, companies, social and community groups, and others to deliver its programmes and to conduct research in support of regional development.