There are key Acts, or pieces of legislation, which set out the University’s establishment and the legal provisions under which it operates.

University of Galway was established by the Colleges (Ireland) Act in 1845. The University was first known as Queens College Galway. In 1908,  in a Charter under the Irish Universities Act 1908, Queens College Galway was renamed University College Galway, and it was reconstituted as a constituent college of the then newly established National University of Ireland (NUI).

In 1997, it was reconstituted as a University under the Universities Act, 1997 which set out how all universities in the State are governed, with the name National University of Ireland, Galway -  Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. While this remains our legal name and we continue to be a constituent college of the National University of Ireland, the trading name of the University changed on 1 September 2022 to University of Galway.

The most recent legislation in relation to governance of the higher education sector in Ireland was enacted in 2022.  The Higher Education Authority Act 2022 updates some of the provisions of the Universities Act 1997, including those relating to the composition and key functions of governing authorities.