Minister Harris launches revised National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) and

By Amber Flynn

Posted: 6 July, 2023

Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD today launched the revised National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) at the HEA Research Futures event at the Spencer Hotel, Dublin. The event is focused on the best next steps to support and develop Ireland’s research culture, research capacity, and infrastructures via our higher education and research system and how best to ensure our researchers continue to produce research with impact nationally and internationally.

The National Framework for Doctoral Education, first published in 2015, underpins excellence in all aspects of doctoral education. It provides principles for all HEIs to adopt in the development and delivery of PhD and Masters programmes. This latest iteration considers the changing research and doctoral education landscape in Ireland and Europe and international best practice. The successful implementation of the Framework is supported by the NFDE Advisory Forum, which is co-chaired by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and consists of members from key stakeholders in higher education and research.

This Framework revision was led by Professor Emeritus Eithne Guilfoyle (DCU) and involved key stakeholders across the sector. Changes identified during the refresh process have been incorporated into this new version, by the NFDE Advisory Forum, and include developments such as  The Healthy Campus Framework and National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework. The new version also takes account of progress in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion policies.

Building on the Framework’s recommendations,, a microsite that will act as a central online information hub for doctoral education in Ireland, was also unveiled at the Research Futures event. The site, generated by QQI and the IUA, in conjunction with one of the Advisory Forum’s working groups, includes a roadmap for the PhD journey from pre-entry to post-graduation and value proposition pieces on the opportunity of a PhD. As a further support to PhD careers, the HEA is announcing a national roll out of The Odyssey Programme. The Programme is aimed at final year research students seeking to enhance their career paths post-graduation via transformative training.

Attending the event today, the CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Dr Alan Wall, said:

“The refreshed National Framework and ‘’, are a direct result of the Advisory Forum working with stakeholders and the HEA across the system to reflect on what was achieved since the Framework’s initial publication. The Forum have worked hard to identify additional steps we can take to ensure that researchers across the system are supported towards successful outcomes.

For example, today’s roll out of the Odyssey programme, by the HEA, will further support PhD students preparing for diverse careers that contribute to not only to our higher education and research system, but also to our society, economy and global reputation.”

By continuing to implement the National Framework for Doctoral Education and progressing actions therein, Irish HEIs are committing to further enhancing education and research, enabling Ireland to position itself as a leader in the area.

Notes for the editor

  1. The National Framework for Doctoral Education Advisory Forum is co-chaired by the HEA and QQI and meets regularly.
  2. The microsite and the provision of an initiative to support graduates into their careers both arose from the 2021 EUA study of the implementation of the Framework. The Advisory Forum will continue to use the study to make further improvements to doctoral programmes in 2023/24.
  3. The microsite will host the refreshed National Framework for Doctoral Education and will house future outputs from the NFDE Advisory Forum and its working groups.
  4. The Odyssey Programme originally developed by UCC is a two-day immersion programme aimed at final year research students. The national roll out of this career preparation programme will be supported by the HEA over two phases including an initial pilot.

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Maura O’Shea, Communications Manager, Higher Education Authority (

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