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Minister Harris welcomes publication of the Review of the Irish Higher Education System

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris today (Friday) welcomed the publication of the Higher Education Research Group’s review of the Irish higher education research system.


The Review examined a number of strategic themes to help drive the future performance of higher education research activity in Ireland, and found that its impact can be far-reaching, as has been demonstrated so clearly during the COVID-19 crisis.


Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “As we move forward with the preparation of the next national research and innovation strategy, I welcome these policy insights from this group of experts. 


“The research performance of the higher education institutions forms a central plank of Ireland’s research and innovation system.  How this can be best developed in the years to come will be pivotal to the wider success of Ireland’s next national R&I strategy.”


While the impact of higher education research can be felt throughout society, the Review found that because evidence of this is not being systematically and comprehensively captured, its importance risks being undervalued.


The Group’s analysis of public investment revealed a strong interdependency between core public funding for higher education research and the competitive research funding awarded by national funding agencies.


Its consideration of the relationship between the higher education research system and enterprise indicates positive potential for greater researcher mobility into enterprise.  For researchers more generally, it highlights the importance of, among other things, career advice and consistent training.


The review concludes with a call for consideration of a mission-oriented approach to research and innovation in Ireland, one that creates space for investigator-driven research complemented by more directed research activity, drawing together many research disciplines and galvanising all in pursuit of a shared mission.  Nowhere has the value of this been more apparent than in the global search for answers to the pandemic. 


Mr. Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association,said:“The report by the HERG provides solid analysis of fundamentally important issues for research activity in Irish higher education institutions.


“We look forward to engaging with our members about the Review’s policy insights as we explore how Irish higher education research will maximise its impact on the shape and realisation of Ireland’s next national research and innovation strategy.”


Dr Joseph Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of the Technological Higher Education Association, welcomed the report, noting that “several of the HERG’s Review findings are already being progressed. 


“We look forward now to wider consideration of the report with our member institutions and policymakers, as we collectively strive to optimise Ireland’s research and innovation system and the important role that the new technological universities will play within it.”


To read the full report, follow this link:


Notes to the Editor

The Higher Education Research Group (HERG) has served as expert advisory group on higher education research policy to the Department of Education prior to the establishment of this Department.  Its membership is comprised of higher education institutional Vice Presidents for Research or equivalent, the Irish Universities Association, the Technological Higher Education Association, representatives of the Royal Irish Academy, the Irish Research Council, the Higher Education Authority and Department officials.


  • The Review considers the following six strategic themes:
  1. The impact of higher education research activity
  2. Public investment in higher education research activity
  3. External collaborations (enterprise, citizen, international)
  4. Innovation districts and regional clusters
  5. The researcher
  6. A mission-oriented approach to research and innovation


  • The Review was carried out in three broad phases:
  • Project set-up (Q2 2019)
  • Evidence-gathering (Q3 2019),
  • Analysis and report-drafting (Q4 2019 and Q1 2020).


Completion of the Review report was paused twice during 2020 because of the disruptions brought about by the pandemic and the transfer of responsibilities for higher education research to the new Department.