The system performance framework sets out the priorities of government under a number of headings which include economic renewal; social and cultural development and equity; public sector reform; and the restoration of Ireland’s national reputation.



National priorities and key objectives of government for higher education are detailed in the System Performance Framework, by the Minister for Education and Skills.

The first System Performance Framework covered the period 2014-16, while the second System Performance Framework 2018-2020, published in January 2018, reaffirms the purposes of the earlier framework:

  • To hold the system accountable for performance for the delivery of national priorities and monitor performance of the system as a whole;
  • To articulate all the expectations of the system from different areas of government/agencies across the various dimensions of higher education activity;
  • To increase the visibility of performance of the system to Government and the wider public;
  • To contribute to system and policy development by highlighting structural and other deficits including data capacity;
  • To allow HEIs to identify their strategic niche and mission and agree a performance compact aligned with funding with the Higher Education Authority.

In setting out national system objectives and priorities for higher education, the System Performance Framework 2018-2020 references other national policies and strategies, including the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 and the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. It also articulates how the higher education sector will support the achievement of wider national policy objectives for social and economic development at regional and national level (e.g. skills development, research and innovation, access and internationalisation).

Key system objectives for the period 2018-2020 are as follows:

  1. Providing a strong talent pipeline combining knowledge, skills & employability which responds effectively to the needs of our enterprise, public service and community sectors, both nationally and regionally, and maintains Irish leadership in Europe for skill availability;
  2. Creating rich opportunities for national and international engagement which enhances the learning environment and delivers a strong bridge to enterprise and the wider community;
  3. Excellent research, development and innovation that has relevance, growing engagement with external partners and impact for the economy and society and strengthens our standing to become an Innovation Leader in Europe;
  4. Significantly improves the equality of opportunity through Education and Training and recruits a student body that reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland’s population;
  5. Demonstrates consistent improvement in the quality of the learning environment with a close eye to international best practice through a strong focus on quality & academic excellence;
  6. Demonstrates consistent improvement in governance, leadership and operational excellence.

System Performance Reports

The HEA to date has published three higher education System Performance Reports reviewing the performance and progress of the system for the years 2014 – 2017.