Future Planning


HEA Forward-Look Forum

The HEA maintains a watching brief on developments in higher education nationally and internationally in order to inform the on-going development of the Irish higher education system. This horizon-scanning is supported by the HEA Forward-Look Forum series.


The HEA Forward-Look Forum was launched in 2014. The fora—for the leadership of Irish higher education, policy-makers and other key stakeholders—are held in the spring and autumn of each year. Cognisant of the rapidly changing international context within which higher education institutions operate, the fora aim to support forward-looking and disruptive thinking about the future of the sector through open dialogue that is unfettered by existing policy and the assumptions and values on which this is based. Focusing on cross-cutting themes that are complementary to the on-going reform of the Irish sector, the fora are participatory, supporting the development of action-oriented responses to addressing future challenges.

Details of the fora which have been held to date are presented in the table below.


TitleDateVenueTopicKeynote speakers
Re-casting the Sustainability Debate: Positioning Irish Higher Education as a Driver of Sustainable Social, Cultural and Economic Development30th May 2014George’s Hall, Dublin CastleThe role of higher education as a driver of the economy and its value for wider society.Professor Nancy Zimpher (State University of New York)
From Regional Clusters to Knowledge Hubs: Unlocking the Potential26th November 2014Davenport HotelMaximising the contribution of regional clusters of higher education institutions to social, cultural, and economic development.Professor John Goddard, O.B.E. (Newcastle University) and Professor Susan Christopherson (Cornell University)
International Trends in Research: What Does Ireland Need to Succeed?15th April 2015Davenport HotelThe role of research in higher education, and the evaluation of its quality and impact.Professor Sir Peter Scott (University College London), Dr. Martin Curley (Maynooth University and Intel), Professor Arie Rip (University of Twente), David Sweeney (HEFCE), and Dr. Jack B. Spaapen (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)
Skills, Employability and the Post-Secondary Sector: What is the Role for Higher Education?11th November 2015St. Patrick’s College, DrumcondraThe role of higher education in responding to the demand for graduates, addressing skills shortages, and meeting societal and labour-market needs.Amy Laitenen (New America) and Professor Ewart Keep (University of Oxford)
‘Unbundling’ Educational Provision and Delivery Modes—What's Ahead?19th May 2016Camden Court HotelThe 'unbundling' of higher education in terms of innovation in programme-provision and delivery. Dr. Paul Le Blanc (Southern New Hampshire University), Professor Mark Brown (Dublin City University) and Golide Blumenstyk (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
'Private Providers: What Role Should They Play in the Irish Higher Education Landscape?23rd November 2016St. Laurence's, DIT GrangegormanThe role that is and should be played by private providers of higher education in Ireland.Professor Pedro Nuno Teixeira (University of Porto), John Fielden (CHEMS Consulting) and Dr. Padraig Walsh (Quality and qualifications Ireland).
Higher Education Futures: Which Issues and Trends are Most Significant for Ireland and the HEA?31st May 2017Davenport HotelThe key trends likely to shape future policy-challenges and choices for Ireland.Dirk van Damme (OECD), Professor Claire Callender (University College London and Birkbeck, University of London) and Dr. Stephen Kinsella (University of Limerick)