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Inaugural Irish Higher Education Governance Forum

21 May 2024 | Advance HE 'Governance and management in times of change' was the theme at this new forum designed to share insights and learn from others about how institutions are planning and adapting governance to address regulatory changes.

Advance HE has held its inaugural 'Irish Higher Education Governance Forum' (Dublin, 17 May).

The theme of the event was ‘Governance and Management in Times of Change’ and included a keynote speech by Dr Colm O’Reardon, Secretary General of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, setting out the vision for the future of HE in Ireland.

The Forum provided an opportunity to share insights and learn from others about how institutions are planning for and adapting their governance to address recent regulatory changes and the wider consequences for the sector. 

Advance HE has been reaching out to Irish members over the past year to understand their interests and needs around governance and strategic support. When our members expressed an interest in convening an event that brought together a network of individuals with governance responsibilities to share experiences and learn from each other, the Irish HE Governance Forum was born.

To ensure our member benefits and wider services meet the needs of Irish institutions, the Consulting and Governance team worked closely with Kate Weedy, the Head of Partnerships for Ireland, and tapped into governance and management experts from within our Irish higher education network. The inaugural forum welcomed 45 attendees from Advance HE members across the Irish sector, including Chairs and other independent members of the governing bodies, Presidents and executives who have governance within their portfolio, and governance professionals. 

The Forum heard from a range of speakers from across the sector, including an overview of recent developments from Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish University Association (IUA), and Dr Joseph Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA). A panel of four speakers, chosen for their range of expertise and perspectives – Professor Thomas Collins, Chairperson of the Governing Body at Dundalk Institute of Technology; Gina Quin, President of the National College of Ireland; Professor Colin Scott, Registrar, Deputy President and Vice President of Academic Affairs at University College Dublin; and Caroline Loughnane, Secretary for Governance and Academic Affairs at University of Galway - offered a range of perspectives on the key governance topics of the moment.

The agenda included opportunities to network and concluded with a shared learning session themed around four key governance topics. 

Welcoming the new forum, Dr O'Reardon said, “Higher Education Institutions have one of the longest-standing governance structures and functions in our society. Academic and intellectual freedom, and the associated exchange of knowledge, are at the core of why these institutions have been successful for so long. I warmly welcome the new Irish HE Governance Forum, which will facilitate the sharing of ideas and good practice across the sector and is a clear indication of the importance that we all place on effective governance”.

Dr Colette Fletcher, Head of Consulting & Governance at Advance HE, said, “The new Irish HE Governance Forum is unusual in terms of the breadth of institutions and roles of the people that it brings together, but it was really helpful to focus such a wide range of perspectives and knowledge on some of the key governance challenges facing the sector. Moving forwards, we want the forum to evolve with our members’ needs and priorities and add as much value as possible.”

Advance HE is currently developing a suite of governance products and services for Ireland and is keen to take a co-creation approach.

If you would like to join our advisory groups and help us ensure that our offer and support meets the needs of the Irish sector, please contact Dr Colette Fletcher .


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