Launch of the revised National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) and the TU Research and Innovation Supporting Enterprise (TU RISE) scheme 

Thursday, 6th July 2023, 10:00 – 15:20, at the Spencer Hotel, IFSC, Excise Walk, Dublin 1.   

  • Programme of Research Futures Event



    MC: Dr Sandra Joyce, Executive Dean, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Limerick 


    9:00 – 10:00 Registration and tea/coffee 

    10:00 – 10:10 Welcome 

    Dr Alan Wall, Chief Executive Officer, Higher Education Authority (HEA)  

    10:10 – 10:20 Short break  

    10:20 – 10:30 Launch of the revised National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) and the TU Research and Innovation Supporting Enterprise (TU RISE) scheme co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union 

    Minister of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD    

    10:30 – 10:45 Introduction to the TU RISE scheme 

    Dr Victoria Brownlee, Senior Manager, System Development and Performance Management, HEA 

    10:45 – 11.15 Research capacity building and enterprise engagement in the technological sector: Panel discussion 

    Chair: Tim Conlon, Head of Policy and Strategic Planning 

    Panellists: Professor Veronica Campbell, President, South East Technological University; Niamh Costello, CEO, CREW, Creative Enterprise West; David Kelly, Director of the Southern Regional Assembly; Dr Niall Smith, Head of Research, Munster Technological University 

    11:15 – 11:45 The National Framework for Doctoral Education: A refresh  

    Laura Flynn, Head of the Partnerships Division, Quality and Qualifications Ireland; Professor Emerita, Eithne Guilfoyle, Dublin City University 

    11:45 – 12:00 Break   

    12:00 – 12:30 Successfully embedding the NFDE in Higher Education Institutions: Panel discussion 

    Chair: Professor Mary McNamara, Head of the Graduate Research School, TU Dublin 

    Panellists: Waqar Ahmed, Former Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs, Union of Students in Ireland; Professor Paul McCabe, Dean of Graduate Studies, University College Dublin; Dr Áine Ní Shé, Registrar & Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Munster Technological University; Dr Gráinne Walshe, Assistant Director-Partnerships and Impact, Irish Research Council 

    12:35 -12:50 Showcasing the PhD in Ireland to engage talent, employers and government and  

    introduction to MyPhD microsite 

    Professor Barbara Dooley, Registrar and Deputy President, University College Dublin; 

    Dr Emer Cunningham, Head of Graduate Research and Strategic Development, University College Dublin 

    12:50 – 13:20 Keynote address: Research and doctoral education into the future  

    Dr Alexander Hasgall, Head of the European University Association Council for Doctoral Education  

    13:20 – 14:20    Lunch 

    14:20 – 14:35 Working towards a national research career tracking system   

    Dr Maysoun Mustafa, Science Foundation Ireland   

    14:35 – 14:45 Postgraduate student engagement  

    Hannah Kelly, National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP)  

    14:45 – 15:10    National roll out of The Odyssey Programme  

    Mary Kate O’Regan and Dr Paolo Saporito, HR Research, University College Cork 

    15:10 – 15:20 Closing remarks 

    Dr Deirdre Quinn, Senior Manager, Research, Policy and Strategic Planning, HEA 

  • Speaker biographies 

    Waqar Ahmed, Former Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs, Union of Students in Ireland  

    Waqar Ahmed is the former Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs at the Union of Students in Ireland. Waqar was a member of the NFDE Advisory Forum and HEA Research Graduate Education Committee. Waqar is also a Demonstrator and PhD researcher at the School of Communications at Dublin City University. Waqar has over nine years of experience in student engagement, education policy, research, teaching, and journalism. 


    Dr Victoria Brownlee, Senior Manager, System Development and Performance Management, HEA  

    Victoria Brownlee is responsible for System Development and Performance Management at the HEA. She manages the implementation of the System Performance Framework, including the annual strategic dialogue process with institutions, and is responsible for several national funds supporting landscape reform, such as the Technological University Transformation Fund (TUTF) and TU Research and Innovation Supporting Enterprise (TU RISE) scheme. Prior to joining the HEA, Victoria was Head of Athena Swan Ireland, where she led the strategic development and implementation of the charter nationally. Victoria holds a PhD in English from Queen’s University Belfast and has worked as a lecturer and researcher in universities in Ireland and the UK.   


    Professor Veronica Campbell, President, South East Technological University  

    Veronica Campbell was appointed as inaugural President of South East Technological University SETU in July 2022. She previously served on the inaugural Board of the Atlantic Institute and was the chair of the Global Brain Health Institute, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. She is a former President of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (Biomedical Sciences Section). She joined Trinity College Dublin in 1998, and held several senior leadership roles there, including Dean of Graduate Studies and Bursar & Director of Strategic Innovation. She holds a degree in Pharmacology from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of London.  


    Tim Conlon, Head of Policy and Strategic Planning, HEA 

    Tim Conlon leads the policy and strategic planning and system development & performance management units at the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Ireland’s statutory planning and policy development body for higher education and research. Tim has worked at the HEA for almost twenty years, holding various posts at the national research council, in HEA research and infrastructure, system development and policy and planning. On behalf of the HEA, Tim leads the reform process driving the creation of new technological universities. Tim is co-Chair of the National Open Research Forum, co-Chair of the Doctoral Advisory Forum and Chaired the HEA working group which produced Ireland’s first National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework.  


    Professor Barbara Dooley, Acting Registrar & Deputy President, University College Dublin (UCD) 

    Barbara Dooley is the UCD Acting Registrar & Deputy President. She works with the Dean of Graduate Studies to ensure UCD’s structured PhD and research supervisor development programme are aligned with international best practice promoting a quality experience for research students. Professor Dooley was Vice-Principal for Teaching and Learning in the College of Human Sciences (2009-2014) and Head of the School Psychology (2005-2009).  Professor Dooley is an active researcher and research supervisor in youth mental health with a particular focus on student mental health. She is a steering group member of the European University Association Council for Doctoral Education. 


    Laura Flynn, Head of the Partnerships Division at Quality and Qualifications Ireland   

    Laura Flynn is the Head of the Partnerships Division at Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) overseeing its Communications and Stakeholder Engagement units. She has worked in education for over 20 years holding roles in private higher education and in the English language sector. She represents QQI as the co-chair of the National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) Advisory Forum. Laura is passionate about learner engagement and sits on the steering group of the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) and the National FET Learner Forum Advisory Group. She is currently studying an MSc in Strategic Management. 


    Professor Eithne Guilfoyle, Professor Emerita, Dublin City University  

    Eithne Guilfoyle served as the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Dublin City University from 2012 to 2020. She joined Dublin City University as the Executive Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2004 having served as the Head of Humanities at IADT from 1999-2004. Eithne Guilfolye graduated with a BA in Linguistics and Old and Middle English from UCD and received an MA and PhD in Linguistics from McGill University. She held postdoctoral fellowships at McGill University and at MIT, and taught at McGill University, Queen’s University (Ontario) and the University of Calgary.  


    Dr Alexander Hasgall, Head of the European Universities Association Council for Doctoral Education  

    Alexander Hasgall is Head of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE). He is responsible for the largest European network in this field, covering 36 countries and bringing together 273 universities awarding doctoral degrees and institutions working on issues related to doctoral education and research training. Within EUA, he is also responsible for the area of research ethics and integrity. Before assuming this position, he coordinated the Swiss University Rectors conference’s “Performances de la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales” programme on research evaluation in the social sciences and humanities and was based in the University of Geneva.  


    David Kelly, Director of the Southern Regional Assembly 

    David Kelly was appointed as Director of the Southern Regional Assembly in 2019. Prior to this he held the post of Assistant Director at the Assembly and Head of the ERDF S&E Regional Programmes. David has been involved in managing EU funded programmes since 2001, including Interreg and three Southern & Eastern Regional Programmes (2000-16, 2007-13 and 2014-20), and now the development of the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-27. David also oversees the development and implementation of the Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy for the Southern Region. 


    Hannah Kelly, NStEP Manager 

    Hannah Kelly is the current Manager of the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP). NStEP is a joint initiative of QQI, HEA and USI and aims to promote and encourage student engagement in HEIs through the Steps to Partnership Framework.  Before beginning her role with NStEP, Hannah worked with AHEAD with her work there focusing on disabled student engagement. Outside of her work with NStEP, Hannah is a board member of Dublin Lesbian Line and is a public speaker, particularly in the areas of intersectionality and inclusion. 


    Professor Paul McCabe, Dean of Graduate Studies, University College Dublin 

    Paul McCabe is the UCD Dean of Graduate Studies. As Dean of Graduate Studies, he works with his team to ensure that UCD’s structured PhDs align with the National Framework for Doctoral Education so that robust quality assurance is integral to UCD’s doctoral education. He also oversees UCD’s ‘Research Supervisor Support and Development Programme’, a programme designed for faculty to enhance the quality of their supervision in line with international best practice. Both an active researcher and supervisor, his field of research is in plant physiology and development, focussing on programmed cell death and the biotechnological production of plant medicinal compounds.  


    Professor Mary Mcnamara, Head of the Graduate Research School, Technological University Dublin Mary McNamara is Head of the Graduate Research School at Technological University Dublin. She graduated with an honours degree from the Royal Society of Chemistry and a PhD in Physical Inorganic Chemistry from University College Dublin.  She was a member of the steering committee of the Council of Doctoral Education of the European Universities Association and in Ireland, Professor McNamara is also a member of the National Advisory Forum for Ireland’s National Framework for Doctoral Education. Professor McNamara is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and an active researcher in the development of novel drug delivery systems. 


    Mary Kate O’Regan, HR Business Manager Research, University College Cork (UCC) 

    Mary Kate O’Regan created and delivers the Odyssey Programme to enable Research Staff and final year PhD students to pursue rewarding careers beyond academia, and is PI of the Horizon Europe funded project CARDEA. She leads the HR Excellence in Research programme for UCC and is a lead assessor in HR Excellence in Research for the European Commission. She is responsible for aligning University and HR strategy with researcher career objectives and assists research staff, final year PhD students and management in UCC’s diverse and high performing research centres.  


    Dr Deirdre Quinn, Senior Manager, Research Policy and Strategic Planning, HEA 

    Deirdre Quinn moved into the HEA in 2021 to take up responsibilities around research, policy and strategic planning.  She has led on the roll out of the North South Research Programme and the update of the HEA’s Principles of Good Practice in Research within Irish Higher Education Institutions. She is currently the ‘Plan Lead’ on the development of the next Corporate Strategic Plan for the HEA. Prior to this, she was Assistant Director at the Irish Research Council (Acting) where she worked in the area of programmes and budgets. She has also held the post of National Contact Point for the European Research Council in Ireland supporting researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and was programme manager on the first iteration of COALESCE, and on the IRC’s Enterprise and Employment Schemes.   


    Dr Paolo Saporito, Senior Research Coordinator, HR Research, University College Cork (UCC) 

    Paolo Saporito is Senior Research Coordinator in the HR Research Team at University College Cork. He leads on the organization of training and professional development initiatives for UCC Research Staff and contributes to the EU-funded project CARDEA. He was previously Government of Ireland-IRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Film and Screen Media, UCC. He has a PhD in Italian Studies from McGill University and extensive experience in teaching and learning in higher education. 


    Dr Niall Smith, Head of Research, Munster Technological University (MTU) Cork Campuses 

    Niall Smith received his PhD in Astrophysics from UCD and became Head of Research of CIT in 2005, the post he continues to hold in MTU. He is the co-founder of MTU’s Blackrock Castle Observatory which has welcomed over 1.2 million visitors since 2007. Niall was an Expert Committee member on the Government’s Creating Our Future initiative, a co-author of the National Space Strategy for Enterprise and was awarded the SFI Research Image of the Year 2020 based on research that examined the efficacy of masks against Covid-19 using techniques normally applied to astronomy. 


    Dr Alan Wall, Chief Executive Officer, HEA 

    Dr Alan Wall is the Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Authority. He began his career with the Department of Education in 1993 where he served in a number of areas, including the Central Policy Unit, the ICT Policy Unit and the Office of the Secretary General. In 2005 he was appointed Deputy Director of the newly formed Teaching Council where he played a lead role in the establishment of that body. He returned to the Department of Education and Skills in 2007 to head up the Teacher Education Section and the ICT Policy Unit. He was appointed Director in January 2011 with responsibility for curriculum reform and then Assistant Secretary General with responsibility for the Planning and Building Unit in November 2014. Before taking up his current role as CEO of the Higher Education Authority in August 2019, Dr Wall led the Department of Education’s Research, Reform, Policy and Data Division. A graduate of Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, he is also a Chartered Management Accountant. 


    Dr Gráinne Walshe, Assistant Director – Partnerships and Impact, Irish Research Council 

    Gráinne Walshe is Assistant Director – Partnerships and Impact at the Irish Research Council (IRC). She leads on the development of the IRC’s framework for research impact and outcomes, and on development of relationships with funders and policy-makers and other stakeholders in support of the development of IRC programmes and policies. She also carries the role of National Delegate (Ireland) for Horizon Europe Cluster Two and leads on the development of IRC international bilateral partnerships. She previously worked at the University of Limerick, as Director of the Science Learning Centre which supports undergraduate students in their learning of science and engineering.  

  • Overview of key programmes 

    National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) 

    In partnership with QQI and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the HEA launched Ireland’s National Framework for Doctoral Education in 2015. The Framework aims to underpin excellence in all forms of doctoral education in Ireland and contains nine principles of doctoral education that Irish HEIs are committed to embedding in their doctoral programmes. The NFDE Advisory Forum, co-chaired by the HEA & QQI, was established in 2018 to help enable the successful implementation of the Framework. It continues to meet regularly to discuss issues of strategic importance and national interest concerning the provision of doctoral education.   


    In 2020, EUA Solutions were commissioned by the HEA, QQI, IUA and THEA to undertake a study of the implementation of the NFDE in Irish HEIs. Their study ‘The National Framework for Doctoral Education in Ireland: Report on its Implementation by Irish Higher Education Institutions’found that the Framework was successfully embedded in HEIs. The report also commended HEIs for ensuring both the standard of awards and the quality of student experience by ‘professionalising’ the delivery of postgraduate research education and training in Ireland. Findings from the report also provided a series of recommendations on further implementing and deepening the practice of provision of the NFDE. These are currently being implemented by NFDE Advisory Forum working groups.    


    From the work being undertaken on these projects by the NFDE working groups, it was realised that the first iteration of the NFDE needed to be revised to take into account the changing doctoral education landscape, changes in HEIs, and the current European trends and developments in doctoral education. Hence, the Forum initiated a refresh of the principles contained in the Framework, which was led by Emerita Professor Eithne Guilfoyle (UCD). The refreshed Framework will be launched at today’s event.    


    TU Research and Innovation Supporting Enterprise (TU RISE) scheme  

    TU Research and Innovation Supporting Enterprise (TU RISE) is an €83.68 million scheme co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund. The scheme, which is launched at today’s event, will support research capacity building in higher education institutions in the technological sector, with a focus on institutions enhancing engagement with enterprises in their regions. TU RISE will make funding available over four years (2023-2027) via two regional programmes, the Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021-27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27. 


    The purpose of the scheme is to establish, strengthen, and systemise research and innovation offices in Technological Universities (TUs) to enable greater and more structured engagement with regional enterprises, in particular, small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The benefits of research and innovation offices will be accelerated and cascaded across disciplines and campuses of institutions through staff development, including increased researcher human capital, at faculty and school level. As such, TU RISE will result in a deepening of research-led teaching and learning excellence, including at apprenticeship and post-graduate levels, extension of research fields, and greater capacity within TUs to serve national and regional strategic objectives in line with Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3). 


    For more information on the TU Rise call documentation, please click here


    Odyssey Programme 

    The HEA will launch the national rollout of the Odyssey Programme to HEIs at today’s event. It is anticipated that phase one will see the programme extended to 6 institutions over a 12-month period. Following a review, it is hoped that phase 2 will roll out to all remaining institutions over the ensuing 18 months. 


    The two-day Odyssey Programme developed at UCC enables final-year PhD students to adapt, integrate, and expand on their existing expertise to prepare for diverse career choices. The programme enables participants to embrace and explore various avenues and identify career options that excite and challenge them. Odyssey is a catalyst for preparing our most talented people for careers in industry, government, non-profits, entrepreneurship, and beyond. Odyssey will enable participating universities to embrace, embed, and support innovative and flexible career planning for their talented final-year PhD students. 

    By building on their existing skills learned in an academic research environment, the Odyssey Programme enables participants to understand and articulate how to adapt and apply their skills to non-academic employers. The programme envisages that the participants will become “academia to industry” ambassadors, creating new bidirectional pathways between universities and other high-performing organisations. The programme directly links with the Irish Government’s Impact 2030 which aims to “Improve career pathways into wider sectors, so that researchers can maximise their impact on all forms of organisations throughout Ireland (and beyond), while also realising their own potential”. 


    Today’s event also sees the launch of the microsite that will act as a central online information hub for doctoral education in Ireland. The site contains outputs from the Research Career Profiling working group such as a roadmap for the PhD journey from pre-entry to post-graduation and value proposition pieces for Employers and the Government to illustrate the value of a PhD. The new centralised hub also contains the refreshed National Framework for Doctoral Education and will house any future outputs of the NFDE Advisory Forum’s working groups. 

    The microsite can be accessed at .   

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