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HEA Policy Study on Open and Distance Learning (ODL)

Ireland’s future social and economic progress is dependent on our ability to continue to increase the skills of our population. The most recent FÁS/ESRI Manpower Forecasting Study (2nd March, 2010) projects that economic recovery and growth over the medium term (to 2015) will be greatest in occupations that require higher-level qualifications and high-skill levels. Given the extent to which members of the existing workforce do not hold a higher-level qualification, it is imperative that opportunities are provided to enable those individuals to pursue a higher education.
 Open and distance learning (ODL) is one approach to the introduction of more flexible learning opportunities for students who are in employment or who are unable to commit to regular attendance at higher education institutions. As such it has an important contribution to make to national objectives in up-skilling and higher education participation.
 In January 2009 the HEA considered a report prepared by an advisory group chaired by Professor Malcolm Skilbeck titled 'New Directions for Open and Distance Learning in Ireland'. The full terms of reference for that policy study and the membership and biographies of the expert panel are available below.
 In response to the advisory group's report, the Authority prepared a position paper on Open and Flexible Learning which is available for download here.
 The paper has a system-wide focus and includes proposals on how the HEA’s funding allocation mechanisms could be developed to support open and flexible learning in Irish higher education. The paper concludes by offering some reflections on a number of issues that require attention and action in order to maximise the flexibility and quality of Irish higher education.
 Reference items:
HEA Position Paper on Open & Distance Learning
Policy Study - Advisory Panel Terms of Reference
Public Consultation - Invitation for Submissions  / Template
Open & Distance Learning Membership and Biographies of the Advisory Panel


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