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Policy Projects

Strategic Planning
International Role
Skills Working Groups
Open and Distance Learning (ODL)
Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) Review
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
Seven Countries Study
Study on the Reasons for Low Participation in Higher Education by the Non Manual Socio-Economic Group
Architectural Education Provision in Ireland
Review of Teacher Education in Ireland

Strategic Planning
 
 The HEA is the statutory planning and development body for higher education and research in Ireland, in respect of which it advises the Government and the Minister for Education and Science.  The HEA is responsible for the allocation of Exchequer funding to the universities and to other institutions designated under the Act.
 The work of the HEA also feeds into broader national education policies. As part of its policy advice role, the HEA has both undertaken and supported a number of major policy reports on the development of higher education in Ireland.
 The role of higher education in Ireland has never beenmore important – to individuals, society and the economy.  Individuals who participate in higher education are enriched by the experience through enhanced personal development and career aspiration opportunities.  Higher education plays a central role in promoting national well-being and the social, economic and cultural development of the country.  Higher education fosters the development of a society enriched by active, well-educated citizens; it helps individuals develop to their full potential, and it provides the economy with skilled human capital.
 The higher education sector is therefore a vital national resource. Past success has depended upon the provision of a high quality education system, responsive to the needs of individuals, society and the economy. If Ireland as a society and an economy is to continue to develop, we must urgently adopt the strategies necessary to create a dynamic, knowledge-based, innovative and inclusive society. If we fail to do so then not only will we not develop further but we risk losing the gains from the significant progress that has been made.
 The HEA Strategic Plan 2008 – 2010 has been finalised and is available on the website.
 The Strategic Plan articulates the HEA’s vision for Higher Education - The development of a sector that contributes to the advancement of society through empowered, dynamic, entrepreneurial, well-resourced and autonomous higher education institutions.
HEA Strategic Plan 2008 - 2010 EN
HEA Strategic Plan 2008 - 2010 IR
 
International Role
 
 The Policy and Planning Section has a role in the development and promotion of international relations and the internationalisation of the Irish higher education sector. Current programmes include Irish/American relations through the IAHERO network and the further development of connections with the Peoples Republic of China via the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA).
 
Skills Working group

 The Policy and Planning Section represents higher education and provides input to a number of skills fora including:
The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN)
The Financial Skills Working Group, Department of the Taoiseach
The National Childcare Training Strategy

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 such 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. 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'. In response to the report, the Authority has prepared a position paper on Open and Flexible Learning which is available for download here.

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

IUQB Review and appointment of expert external review panel

 The HEA has recently commissioned a review of the IUQB to assess, among other things, its compliance with the agreed European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance.  IUQB has completed its self evaluation as part of the review. The review by the international expert panel will be the next stage.  One objective of the review is to allow the IUQB to obtain membership of the European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).

Further details are available here.
 
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is a multi-annual fund, amounting to €510 million over the period 2006 – 2013, which is directed towards support for innovation in higher education institutions.  It supports new approaches to enhancing quality and effectiveness within higher education and research, incorporating the use of existing resources (including capital resources) more effectively, as well as new funding.  Projects approved to date under SIF are aimed at enhancing collaboration between higher education institutions, improving teaching and learning, supporting institutional reform, promoting access and lifelong learning and supporting the development of fourth level education.
 Further details of funding under SIF Cycle I and SIF Cycle II are available here.

SIF project websites can be accessed from here.
 

Seven Countries Study
 
 The 7 countries study was research undertaken by the Policy and Planning Unit in co-operation with Art Hauptman (US) comparing the performance of higher education systems across the Wellington Group countries. These countries include Ireland, United Kingdom, Scotland, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The results were presented at a meeting of Wellington countries held in Chicago in July 2007. The study concentrated on the areas of attainment, funding and investment.
 

Study on the Reasons for Low Participation in Higher Education by the Non Manual Socio-Economic Group

  The HEA has commissioned a study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on the reasons for low participation rates in higher education by the non-manual socio economic group. The key aim of this study is to produce a thorough understanding of educational participation among young people from the non-manual group in order to better understand how the group can be supported to access and complete higher education. It is envisioned that this report will be completed in 2008.
 
Architectural Education Provision in Ireland
 
 HEA and RIAI study on architectural education provision in Ireland.
 
 In September 2004, the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), the representative body for professionally qualified architects in Ireland, approached the HEA to discuss what it saw as the very rapid growth in the numbers of higher education institutions who appeared to be considering the introduction of a course leading to professional qualification as an architect.
 
 The RIAI was concerned that the development of new courses might impact on the quality of architectural education, and wished to discuss an approach with the HEA to manage this process.
 
 The HEA and RIA jointly developed a discussion paper on the provision of architectural education and through a process of consultation with higher education institutions produced a final guideline document. Further information on the process to date and copies of the guideline document are available here.

Architectural Education Provision in Ireland

HEA and RIAI study on architectural education provision in Ireland.
In September 2004, the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), the representative body for professionally qualified architects in Ireland, approached the HEA to discuss what it saw as the very rapid growth in the numbers of higher education institutions who appeared to be considering the introduction of a course leading to professional qualification as an architect.

The RIAI was concerned that the development of new courses might impact on the quality of architectural education and wished to discuss an approach with the HEA to manage this process.

In considering the development of new architects' courses, it was agreed with the RIAI that, from a system perspective, three elements were essential, i.e. the level of student demand, the level of employer/economic demand and finally, the capacity of individual colleges to offer quality courses, which would be coherent with other provision in the sector.

It was also noted that the principle of autonomy should be safeguarded, while maintaining respect for both the overarching need for the sector as a whole to respond to national needs, and the need to maximise the effectiveness of public funds. In this context, it was noted that the first duty in regard to the development of new programmes must lie with individual institutions, which would need to consider the issues of student demand, national needs and their own capability to offer a distinctive and high quality course in the area of consideration.

It was agreed with the RIAI that an international expert would be jointly commissioned to assist in this process. Building on the quantitative review of numbers required in Ireland, the expert would consider the changing roles of the architect going forward, and make recommendations as to how any new higher education courses should be developed as a means to best support those needs.

Prof. John Worthington, was commissioned to prepare the discussion paper. Prof. Worthington was a founder of DEGW (a distinguished international architectural consultancy group) and holds professorships in architecture at the University of Sheffield and Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg. He has extensive international knowledge and experience.

This study, entitled ‘A Future for Architectural Education in Ireland,’ has now been completed and the relevant institutions have submitted their feedback and comments. These comments have been taken into account and the RIAI has produced a contextual preamble to Professor Worthington’s paper. The final report is available for download below:

A Future for Architectural Education in Ireland

Since the completion of the HEA/RIAI report in 2005, three higher education institutions have sought approval for the development and implementation of new or upgraded architectural education programmes. Copies of the reports from these review processes are available below:

Architectural education Panel Report UCC-CIT

Architectural education Panel Report WIT

Architectural education Panel Report IT Sligo

During the most recent of these processes, the review of the IT Sligo proposal in July 2008, the review panel recommended that the HEA should not consider any further applications for the approval of the development and implementation of new or upgraded architectural education programmes until 2010. The Authority accepted the report and its recommendations at their meeting in July 2008.

Review of Teacher Education in Ireland
 
 The HEA has been requested to undertake a review of the structure of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) provision in Ireland by the Minister for Education and Skills.  An international panel with specific expertise in teacher education has been established by the HEA to conduct the review and will report to the HEA by the end of summer 2012.
 
 A background paper has been prepared by Professor Áine Hyland, Emeritus Professor of Education, University College Cork.  This paper will inform the panel members in their work and is available here

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