The National Framework for Doctoral Education sets out the main principles underpinning Irish doctoral education and is supported by the institutions and research funders.

The HEA, in partnership with QQI and the Higher Education Institutions, launched Ireland’s National Framework for Doctoral Education in 2015. This set out the main principles underpinning Irish doctoral education and was supported by institutions and research funders. The HEA is also Co-Chair, with QQI, of the National Framework for Doctoral Education Advisory Forum which actively meets throughout the year to discuss new and innovative ways to expand on the Framework and ensure its standards and quality are kept at the highest levels.

In 2021, EUA Solutions conducted a study and presented its findings ‘The National Framework for Doctoral Education in Ireland: Report on its Implementation by Irish Higher Education Institutions’ to the Advisory Forum. The team found that the framework was very well embedded internally in HEIs but also provided recommendations on further implementation.

Following this report, the Advisory Forum decided that a refresh of the principles contained in the current National Framework for Doctoral Education would be developed to reflect the changing research landscape in Ireland. An external consultant was brought in to carry out a series of consultations with relevant stakeholders and provide an updated framework proposal for the Advisory Forum to consider.

After consideration, the Advisory Forum accepted the proposed changes to the framework and on the 6th of July the updated NFDE was launched. This revised framework was expanded on to include key topics such as EDI, Mental Health and Well-being, and skill development both within and outside academia.

The NFDE Advisory Forum has also developed a number of working groups to promote and develop the Doctoral Research landscape in Ireland. These working groups include; Research Career Profiles, Career Tracking and Postgraduate Student Engagement.

The Career Profiling working group developed a ‘PhD roadmap’ for prospective researchers which is available on the myPhD site. The site also contains the revised NFDE document and other relevant publications to Irish researchers.

The Career Tracking working group is developing a proposal for the implementation of a career tracking mechanism for the purpose of providing insight into the career paths available to research graduates.

The Postgraduate Student Engagement working group is currently assessing avenues available to increase the level of engagement of postgraduates students in the areas of governance and structure in Irish HEIs.

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