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Home » Ireland’s Education Yearbook 2023 » Higher Education

Higher Education


'Giving while Living' was the motto of the great American philanthropist Chuck Feeney who died in 2023.

As the son of Irish-American parents, it is no surprise that over €1 billion of philanthropic support was directed to Ireland.

Professor Kerstin Mey pays tribute to the world-renowned benefactor here.

Who Commutes to College, and Why It Matters

Supporting commuter students for a better college experience

The number of students with long regular commutes to college is growing. Reasons include an increasing number and changing mix of students participating in higher education, a shortfall in appropriate and affordable student accommodation, and the recent cost-of-living crisis. But does it matter and, if so, what can and should be done to address it?

John Cullinan
Professor in Economics, University of Galway

Micro-credentials, Maximum Impact

Opportunities and challenges for higher-education providers

Micro-credentials have the potential to address the lifelong learning needs of the Irish workforce, where over half of 25–34-year-olds already have a third-level qualification, allowing institutions to provide affordable, stackable, and focused awards to address the rapidly changing needs of technological, economic, and social transformations. This article reflects on current developments of micro-credentials across the sector and explores their potential to support the workforce of the future.

Elva Casey
Registrar, Hibernia College
Mary Doyle
Head of Quality and Enhancement, Griffith College
Lorraine Halpin-Foley
Director of Quality and Academic Affairs, SQT Training
Steve Welsh
Instructional Designer, St Nicholas Montessori Society of Ireland

Autistic Students’ Engagement and Participation in Higher Education

An exploration through research, observations, and experiential evidence

This article gives a brief overview of autistic student engagement in mainstream higher education: the challenges they experience and the support they receive. Are autistic students receiving the support they need? Is it enough? Anecdotal and observational evidence indicates that autistic students do not feel fully supported, which impacts on their learning experience.

Michelle Kenny
Lecturer at Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, and PhD researcher at Lancaster University

The Looking Glass: How Irish Female Professors Perceive Their Informal Leadership Roles

Our study explores the perspectives of female professors in Irish business schools, emphasising their crucial informal leadership roles. These professors, having risen through the academic ranks, become role models for junior female academics. The study shows they feel a deep responsibility to mentor younger academics, especially women, and to challenge and change established norms in academia. They not only support their mentees but also actively work towards creating a more inclusive and gender-balanced academic environment.

Dr Patrick Buckland
Teaching Fellow Business Studies, Mary Immaculate College
Dr Chris O’Riordan
Lecturer in Accounting, South East Technological University
Prof. Felicity Kelliher
Professor of Management Practice, South East Technological University

Designing a New Academic Council

A conceptual framework to reshape governance structures in a higher education institution

The article proposes a conceptual framework to guide the development of governance structures as part of designing a new academic council in an Irish technological university. The framework addresses the different academic activities that take place, risk levels, decision-making uncertainty, and responsibility. It may be of interest to other universities and institutions looking to examine or reshape their governance structures.

Dr Chris O'Riordan
Academic Quality Integration Lead, South East Technological University
Dr Derek O'Byrne
Vice President for Academic Affairs, South East Technological University
Dr Paul O'Leary
Head of Quality Promotion, South East Technological University

The Student Experience of Online Assessment

How third-level students managed a changed academic environment

The Covid-19 pandemic affected 1.2 million students in Ireland, with almost a quarter of a million in higher education studying remotely. It caused a shift in assessment design, from predominantly invigilated final exams to online assessment. Students at Dundalk Institute of Technology took part in a study to explore the student experience of undertaking final assessments online. This article outlines the key findings.

Emer McKenna (FCA)
Lecturer in Accounting, Dundalk Institute of Technology

The Online Doctoral Community of Practice

Sustaining the doctoral experience in the 21st century

This article discusses how participation in an online community of practice (CoP) can play a crucial role in doctoral student support and provide a transformative learning experience that supports degree progress and completion. We share examples based on perspectives from Irish and American doctoral programmes. Engaging doctoral students in an online CoP may create better learners and leaders to navigate the complexities of life and work.

Anne Graham Cagney
Senior Lecturer, South East Technological University
Leslie A. Cordie
Associate Professor, Auburn University, Alabama

Teacher Professional Development for Parent Engagement

Meeting the Teaching Council’s Céim requirements

Despite increased legislation and accreditation requirements for teachers, most teacher education programmes do little to prepare teachers to build relationships with parents. This article contributes to this under-researched area. Findings inform how we could expand support for beginning teachers to develop their family engagement practices and the development of initial teacher education and continuing professional development courses to meet the new Céim standards.

Dr Sandra Ryan
Mary Immaculate College

Strengthening Trauma-Sensitive Education

Developing accredited training based on evaluations from primary, post-primary, and tertiary educators

Trauma awareness sessions were recently held in Cork, followed by a post-training survey. The study, approved by MTU Cork, found that 69% of participants lacked trauma training during initial teacher training or continuing professional development. Based on the data, a framework for trauma training was devised. This work aims to better support students with trauma experiences.

Dr Annie Cummins
Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Sports, Leisure, and Childhood Studies, Munster Technological University, Cork
Dr Judith Butler
Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Sports, Leisure, and Childhood Studies, Munster Technological University, Cork

Engaging Family Carers Across Ireland in Higher Education: A Case Study

This article provides a case study about what works in co-creating an innovative, accredited programme between higher education and the voluntary sector. It shares examples of good practice in improving accessibility to higher education for first-generational learners. It analyses practical aspects of the partnership and summarises the outcomes of the co-created programme.

Lindsay Malone
Director of Further Education and Training, Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board, and Associate Lecturer, South East Technological University
Catherine Cox
Head of Communications, Family Carers Ireland

The Crucial Role of Recruitment and Selection Policies at Technological Universities

Irish higher-education institutions (HEIs), including technological universities, recognise the significance of attracting qualified academics, who have a profound impact on teaching, research, and community service. TUs should investigate the influence of the UK’s Further and Higher Education Act (1992) on HEIs in Ireland, especially regarding their human resources management systems since British polytechnics became universities from 1992.

Dr Noëlle O’Connor
Senior University Lecturer (N-TUTORR), Researcher, and Educational Developer, Technological University of the Shannon

The National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee: Working for Change in Higher Education

Postgraduate research can be both rewarding and lonely, and disabled postgraduates – who are under-represented in higher education – face unique barriers. Awareness of the impact of these barriers on disabled postgraduates’ participation is scant. This article details how a committed group have come together to increase the representation of disabled people at postgraduate level. It presents the elements that are needed to amplify the collective marginalised voice to enable change.

Dr Vivian Rath
Lecturer and Researcher; Co-Chair and Founder, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee

Technological Innovation and Disruption in Education

Ensuring equitable and inclusive education in the AI era

Inclusive and equitable access in education has been much discussed in recent years. At the same time, many technological challenges are affecting education, particularly developments in artificial intelligence. Building technological and educational solutions for historically marginalised groups can only result in better outcomes for everyone. This article explores challenges and opportunities we are encountering in preparing for inclusive innovation and designing educational solutions for all.

Cornelia Connolly
Associate Professor, University of Galway, and Visiting Fellow, Yale University
Tom Collins
Professor of Education (Emeritus), Maynooth University

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