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TU Dublin wins funding for Higher Education Impact research in New Zealand

Posted: 28 May, 2019

TU Dublin researchers, Dr Sharon Feeney and Dr Deirdre Lillis, have won Government of Ireland funding to undertake comparative research on higher education policy issues between Ireland and New Zealand.

Dr Feeney and Dr Lillis will travel to New Zealand over the coming months to work with the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission, Massey University and other key stakeholders on higher education policy issues including international education, sustainable employer contributions to funding, strategic models for University-Industry interactions and data science infrastructures for national systems performance management.

"Like Ireland, New Zealand is a small island off a dominant continent, with a British colonial history, which has evolved into a highly globalised economy dependent on international trade, " Dr Feeney commented. "It consistently ranks at the top of OECD tables for higher education indicators and New Zealand is, therefore, a very relevant comparator for Ireland." New Zealand is also a top destination for international students and forms a fifth of its exports. It has successfully competed in many of the markets that Ireland is seeking to gain a foothold in (Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Thailand and others). The sustainability agenda has a large part to play in future internationalisation strategies, with branch campuses and internationalisation-at-home initiatives set to increase in significance, and the challenges New Zealand has overcome will help identify some key policy issues for the next iteration of the Irish international education strategy (post-2020).

"Sustainable funding is the key issue for Irish Higher Education at present,' Dr Lillis said. "We know we have a problem - we now need to move the debate on, into finding sustainable solutions. Ireland appears to be unique worldwide by asking employers, as a key beneficiary of higher education, to contribute to Higher Education funding through its National Training Fund. Inclusive models for employer engagement are needed to balance this investment with appropriate levels of influence over higher education provision. Balanced and fair employer investment, including asking the large multinationals to play their part, is key to developing a more sustainable funding model for Irish higher education."

Nearly a decade after the National Strategy for Higher Education was adopted, Technological University Dublin was designated as the first Irish Technological University on 1st January 2019, becoming the State’s eighth and largest university. New Zealand has a twenty-year history of institutional mergers and the experiences of merged institutions, post-merger, is very relevant to TU Dublin's development. The research will inform the development of TU Dublin in areas such as internationalisation, university-industry interactions, data science and income generation strategies. Dr Feeney and Dr Lillis are both members of the Board of the Higher Education Authority and will also contribute to national developments in these key areas.