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The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 sets out a vision where Irish higher education has key roles of teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and engagement with wider society as a means to assist in addressing social, economic and cultural challenges. In considering engagement with wider society, the HEA seeks to understand and improve how the Irish higher education system addresses the full range of its responsibilities towards society - to business, local communities, the broader education sector and the wider international world. It also deals with the education sector’s role in providing intellectual leadership and acting as a source of authoritative opinion.

The HEA, in line with the vision set out in the National Strategy, recognises engagement in its broadest sense, taking on civic responsibilities and cooperating with the needs of the community that sustains higher education – including business, the wider education system, and the community and voluntary sector as follows:

Engagement with enterprise - ranges from knowledge transfer and the creation of joint research projects, to the development and provision of education and training for employees, and problem-solving and consulting services.

Engagement with community - links between higher education institutions and their local communities include educational, cultural, sports-related and civic activities, and support for Irish-language development activities.

Engagement with other education and training providers - a clearly identified need for more community-based approaches, and for greater coordination between institutions and sectors.
The strategy recognises that higher education institutions have undertaken a wide range of engagement activities, but this has not been as coordinated as it might be, and in the future this needs to be developed more firmly as a core element of the mission of higher education in Ireland.

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