Irish government invests in higher education excellence

October 26, 2006

Brussels, 25 October 2006

The Irish government has approved a total of 14 projects aimed at re-invigorating the country's higher education system.

Funded to the tune of €42 million under the Ireland's Strategic Innovation Fund, the projects are for the most part collaborative initiatives involving universities and institutes of technology. They fall into four broad categories:

- enabling 'fourth level', refers to adapting universities' and technology institutes' structures and systems so as to increase their research capacity. Includes projects to develop and enable measures for the establishment of new graduate school structures, and to restructure doctoral programmes;

- enhancing teaching and learning, include projects on the establishment of dedicated support centres for maths, science and writing skills; initiatives for recognising and rewarding excellence and innovation in teaching; the establishment of a network of advisors to spread best practice teaching methods and the use of new learning technologies;

- supporting institutional restructuring, includes projects to enhance the capabilities of staff within the sector, develop change management and strengthen management information systems;

- improving access and lifelong learning, one notable approved project will develop an information portal for single, accredited modules designed to enable continuing professional development of work-based students;

Launched at the beginning of 2006, the Strategic Innovation Fund will allocate over a five-year period a total of €300 million to projects to promote collaboration and change in higher education with a view to enhancing the capacity of the system to meet Ireland's future knowledge, skills and innovation objectives.

'The Strategic Innovation Fund was established by the Government to promote collaboration, support change and enhance quality in Irish higher education so that it is equipped to meet the challenge of driving Ireland's development as a leading knowledge economy. It reflects the reality that for Irish higher education to attain world class standards, we need to identify creative approaches that build on the collective strengths of our institutions, working together as a cohesive system,' said Mary Hanafin, Ireland's Minister for Education and Science.

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