Over the past 50 years, higher education (HE) in Ireland has been seen as the primary route to personal and career success while further education and training (FET) is seen as second best. This has created a situation where 91% of students complete secondary school, of which ~70% participate in HE. In contrast, only about 20% attend FET. Ireland ranks third in the OECD and second in the European Union for tertiary education attainment. But this success has also led to an imbalance in the postsecondary system and other challenges.
Over recent years, the policy objective was to diversify the higher education landscape by redesignating regional technical colleges as technological universities. Now, the government is pursuing a strategy for a unified tertiary system for learning, skills, and knowledge, whereby, irrespective of where learners enter FET, HE, or a research career, they are in a single system that responds to individual talents, ambitions, and motivations. Why has this policy approach been taken, and what are the challenges?
About the Speaker
Professor Ellen Hazelkorn