Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Mr Simon Harris, T.D., today launched a unique new evidence base for the future of teaching and learning in Irish higher education.
Since March 2021, fifteen sectoral partners have been working together to answer one shared question:
In the context of Covid-19, what have we learnt and what does it mean for the future of teaching and learning in Irish higher education?
The Next Steps for Teaching and Learning: Moving Forward Together national partnership project was the first of its kind in terms of the scale of, and approach to, collaboration where all partners submitted evidence-based findings from either new or previous research on the experience of teaching, learning, assessing and working through the pandemic. Partners drew on existing consultations and reports, as well as national and international scholarship and research. Many partners also engaged in primary research (using surveys, interviews, focus groups, workshops, etc.).
The Next Steps report and insights collection launched by the Minister (available here) present key messages and evidence-based next steps for teaching and learning into the future.
Welcoming the report and insights collection, Minister Harris said:
‘My Department is determined to do all that we can to support staff and students to reach their full potential.
“In order to do this and to create value, prosperity, resilience and cohesion, we need a sector which is supported and aligned across all levels, that works in partnership, that believes in dialogue which is trustworthy, open-minded and enquiry-based, and that values teaching and learning as a fundamental pillar of Irish higher education.
“I commend the work of the Next Steps partners at what is still a very difficult time for us all and look forward to discussing the recommendations made in this report and to planning how we can all work together to take the next steps.’
Dr Terry Maguire, Director of the National Forum, added:
‘The spirit of partnership and collaboration I have witnessed across the teaching and learning community is exceptional. The Next Steps partners embodied that spirit in recent months, combining their efforts in the interests of our students and demonstrating that we are always stronger and smarter together. I thank them all most sincerely, and extend that thanks also to the wider community who have given of their time to contribute to this important new evidence base.’
The launch event, which took place in the RDS and was livestreamed to an audience across the sector, was hosted by Matt Cooper and included a documentary telling the story of Next Steps, presented by Gráinne Seoige. A panel discussion also took place featuring Professor Frank Coton (Senior Vice Principal and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at University of Glasgow and international advisor to the Board of the National Forum), President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Clare Austick, University of Limerick President, Prof Kerstin Mey, HEA Head of Policy and Strategic Planning, International Programmes & Gender Equality, Mr Tim Conlon, and Head of Technology Enhanced Learning at Munster Technological University, Dr Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin.
The fifteen partners in the Next Steps project are:
- Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD)
- Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA)
- Irish Council for International Students (ICOS)
- Irish Universities Association (IUA)
- National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Project co-ordinator)
- National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP)
- Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
- RCSI University of Medicine & Health Sciences
- Specialist Colleges (Mary Immaculate College; Marino Institute of Education; National College of Art and Design; Royal Irish Academy of Music; St. Angela’s College, Sligo; Carlow College, St. Patrick’s; St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth)
- Student Affairs Ireland (SAI)
- Technological Higher Education Association (THEA)
- Technological University Dublin
- Union of Students in Ireland (USI)
The Next Steps launch is a central pillar in a national week of events focused on valuing Ireland’s teaching and learning (VIT&L). VIT&L Week, which is taking place throughout this week, involves students, staff, senior managers and policy partners through a mix of over 70 in-person and online events in which good practice and scholarship is being shared, strategic discussions are being held, excellence is being recognised, and the sector is coming together to consider how to realise the promise of a valued and informed teaching and learning culture in Irish higher education. For more information on VIT&L Week and how to take part, see here: https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/vital/