Relevant legislation assigning function to the HEA includes the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971, the Irish Universities Act 1997 and the Institutes of Technology Act 2006. Under these Acts, the HEA’s principal functions are:
To allocate the moneys provided by the Oireachtas to publicly funded institutions;
To assist in the co-ordination of State investment in higher education and the preparation of proposals for such investment;
To further the development of higher education;
To promote the attainment of equality of opportunity in higher education;
To promote the democratisation of structure in higher education;
To conduct reviews of the strategic plans, equality policies and the quality assurance procedures of the universities, and to publish the reports of such reviews (Irish Universities Act, 1997);
To promote the attainment and maintenance of excellence in learning, teaching and research in higher education (Institutes of Technology Act, 2006).
In the 1971 HEA Act and in this context, sections 3 and 11 are important:
3.—An tÚdarás shall, in addition to the specific functions given to it by this Act, have the general functions of—
(a) furthering the development of higher education,
(b) assisting in the co-ordination of State investment in higher education and preparing proposals for such investment,
(c) promoting an appreciation of the value of higher education and research,
(d) promoting the attainment of equality of opportunity in higher education,
(e) promoting the democratisation of the structure of higher education.
Supply of information.
11.—An institution of higher education shall supply to An tÚdarás all such information relative to the institution as An tÚdarás may require for the purpose of performing its functions.
The second is the Statutory Instrument 317 of 2015 which more specifically allows the HEA to collect a listed set of variables from bodies listed under schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 which includes the higher education course providers.