HEA launches the System Performance Framework 2023-2028
By Amber Flynn
Posted: 25 September, 2023
The System Performance Framework 2023-2028 was launched today by the Higher Education Authority at an event held in South East Technological University in Carlow. The framework sets out parameters under which higher education institutions will set out their unique contribution to the achievement of national strategic priorities and outcomes, as appropriate to their mission, scale, location, and strategic plan.
Welcoming the launch, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, commented: “The publication of the new System Performance Framework represents a significant step forward in our ongoing journey towards creating a world-class higher education system that is accessible, adaptable and aligned with the evolving needs of society.
Speaking to attendees at the event, CEO of the HEA, Dr Alan Wall, commented: “I am delighted to launch the new System Performance Framework today and would like to thank institutions for their support and engagement throughout the framework’s development. The framework animates the HEA’s legislative responsibility to strengthen the performance of individual institutions and to ensure institutions’ accountability. The framework is also designed to be flexible and responsive, enabling institutions to demonstrate their unique input to the delivery of national priorities and the strength of the higher education and research system as a whole.”
HEIs will identify performance objectives under each of the four pillars of the framework – Teaching & Learning, Research & Innovation, Access & Participation, and Engagement. These objectives will be set out in performance agreements, developed through engagement and dialogue with HEA and published on the HEA website. In their performance objectives, HEIs will also reference the transversal areas of impact identified by the framework, reflecting national system level priorities such as Student Success, Climate and Sustainable Development, and Digital Transformation. Together, the pillars and transversals of the framework present institutions with a flexible mechanism to identify performance objectives that are aligned to institutional strategy and to address challenges and opportunities such as the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI).
At the launch event, the framework and its implementation were discussed by panellists representing each of the four pillars: Professor Marie Clarke, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, University College Dublin (Teaching and Learning); Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation, University of Galway (Research and Innovation); Dr Carolann Bargary, Access Officer, Technological University of the Shannon (Access and Participation); and Dr Claire McBride, Head of the Enterprise Academy, TU Dublin (Engagement).
The HEA’s new System Performance Dashboard also goes live today. This interactive data visualisation gives users an accessible overview of key system and institution level performance indicators aligned to the framework, providing a snapshot of system-level health.
The event also featured the announcement of the Performance Funding 2023 awards, recognising the positive performance of higher education institutions in contributing to national strategic priorities and policies.
Further information on the System Performance Framework 2023-2028 is available here.
Notes for the editor
The HEA Act, 2022 provides for a system performance framework and associated performance agreements with designated institutions of higher education. The Act provides that the HEA should, inter alia, hold higher education institutions to account for their performance, for securing value for money in the use of funding provided, and for their responsibility for performance and governance. As per the Act, the HEA has a mandate to measure and assess the strategic performance of higher education institutions with a view to strengthening the performance of individual institutions and the higher education system as a whole and to ensure institutions’ accountability.
The System Performance Framework 2023-2028 sets out parameters under which designated institutions of higher education can identify their contribution to the achievement of national strategy, as appropriate to each institution’s mission, scale, location, and strategic plan. The creation of four-year performance agreements with institutions, and the monitoring of same via annual reporting and strategy and performance dialogue with the HEA, will provide robust evidence on institutional and system health and inform the development of national policy.
Annual reporting under the framework will review institutions’ strategic performance against performance agreements providing an opportunity to explore learning to assure progress. This review process is founded on an expectation of good institutional governance, with the HEA implementing the System Performance Framework and Governance Oversight Framework as parallel complementary frameworks.