As the statutory planning and policy-advisory body for higher education in Ireland, the HEA advises the Minister for Education and Skills and the Government of Ireland on the development of the sector.

This role encompasses the development and implementation of policy across all aspects of the mission of higher education, the three main dimensions of which are teaching and learning, research, and engagement. Maintaining a watching brief on developments in higher education nationally and internationally, the HEA provides high-quality, evidence-based policy-advice while also performing an advocacy role on behalf of the Irish higher education sector.