With the closure of campuses in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, the universities responded rapidly to ensure the continuity and integrity of provision and that supports were in place for students and staff. There was an emergency shift to remote teaching and alternative assessment in extraordinary circumstances, and each student had the opportunity to complete the semester and either graduate or progress to the next year of their studies. You can hear directly from students and staff about their experiences during this time in our Higher Education in Isolation Vlog Series.
Academic activities for 2020/21 are ongoing on the basis of a blended learning/ hybrid approach. All universities are working towards as much on-campus, face-to-face teaching and learning as is safe, complemented by as much online teaching and learning and guided independent study as is therefore necessary. Our universities will ensure that students receive the same quality of learning and have the opportunity for meaningful engagement despite public health restrictions in place.
Irish universities are dedicated to student-centred learning and teaching as core pillars of our mission, enabled by creative scholarship and innovative research which we apply to enhance the economic, social and cultural well-being of our nation. The universities are continuously engaged in ensuring that the learning and teaching which takes place is of the highest possible quality, up-to-date, relevant, and delivered to students in a variety of suitable ways, particularly in light of rapid advances in digital learning and a need to expand lifelong learning opportunities.
The quality of learning and teaching in Irish universities is also dependent on close interaction with high quality, relevant research and scholarship. This is crucial, from undergraduate studies to doctoral programmes, in keeping teaching up-to-date and ensuring that learning is inspired by a spirit of curiosity and discovery. Much of the research which takes place in Irish universities is undertaken in close cooperation with research partners in other countries, and many researchers in Irish universities have studied or worked abroad. This ensures that they experience the broader benefits of internationalisation in gaining research experience in another country and using that to enrich their own work at home. Please see the Research & Innovation section of this website for information about research underway in Irish universities.
The universities, in collaboration with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), have invested heavily in learning and teaching over the past two decades. Standards and a reputation of excellence have been built up and many important innovations have taken place in the ongoing transformation of learning and teaching across the Irish university sector.
The universities also work closely with and contribute to the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, which was established as a national resource with a central focus on enhancing the quality of the learning experience for all students in higher education. The National Forum plays a vital role in supporting excellence in learning and teaching in Irish higher education, in line with key objectives outlined in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030.
Learning and teaching in Irish universities is enhanced by regular and comprehensive external and internal quality assurance procedures and quality enhancement initiatives. Please see the Quality Assurance section of this website for information. All courses offered in Irish universities lead to qualifications which are included on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and the Irish Register of Qualifications. These qualifications are underpinned by core principles of quality, recognition, access, transfer and progression, and are recognised internationally for the purposes of further study and employment.
Some of the innovations in learning and teaching are linked to European and international developments, where Irish universities play an active role in a variety of programmes and networks. The European University Association ‘Trends’ project often highlights Ireland as an example of good practice, and demonstrates that collaboration and exchange among European universities are important catalysts in enhancing learning and teaching. For information about the Bologna Process, intergovernmental cooperation of 48 countries across the European Higher Education Area with current rounds featuring a strong emphasis on learning and teaching, please click here.
Irish universities are committed to ensuring their students and staff experience the broader benefits of internationalisation. International mobility is encouraged for all student cohorts to have the opportunity to experience learning and teaching in another country and use that to enrich their own work at home. The presence of the large and growing numbers of international students in Irish universities is important in contributing to the internationalisation of curricula and campuses, enriching the learning and teaching environment and the student experience, making students more prepared for the changing world of work and a variety of cultural settings. In 2018, the IUA published a report of the EMASI (Enhancing Mobility for Access Students Ireland) project. This Erasmus+ KA3 project was delivered by IUA, working under the auspices of the then Department of Education and Skills, with the support of the Higher Education Authority. The report and a toolkit with practical resources for HEI staff to enable and widen participation in study or internship abroad can be found on: http://mobilitytoolkit.ie/.
The IUA is a partner in the EPFIME project (Enhancing a thought-out Policy and Framework on Inclusive Mobility across Europe). This 2018-2020 project is co-funded by Erasmus+ KA3 and is led by the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training. It looks at widening participation by students with disabilities in incoming and outgoing international mobility programmes. Project outcomes include tools to support national authorities and higher education institutions in implementing sustainable inclusive mobility policies and measures for students with disabilities, promoting cooperation among these stakeholders across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). More information can be found on the project platform: inclusivemobility.eu. Most recently, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science invited IUA to partner on an Erasmus+ KA3 peer-learning project on inclusive student mobility. The 2019-2021 PLAR-4-SIMP project is also led by the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, with delegations from 14 EHEA countries, looking at strengthening mutual learning and deepening exchange of practice regarding widening participation by underrepresented students in international mobility programmes.
Centres for Learning and Teaching
Forerunners in Europe and internationally, all universities have centres for learning and teaching. These centres work to foster and maintain a culture of excellence in learning and teaching among staff and students, providing information and resources. They promote innovative methods that encourage active learner engagement and critical thinking through which students can develop their knowledge, skills and competences to the highest level, and offer professional development opportunities for staff who teach. The centres maintain close links with partner higher education institutions in Ireland and internationally. Please click on the university links below to find out more:
Our Charter Commitment to Learning and Teaching
“BUILD ON THE QUALITY OF THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN A DIGITAL AGE” BY…
- Developing a coherent national programme in digital learning in partnership with Government.
- Expanding capacity for growing numbers and to drive adult (25 – 64) lifelong learning in Ireland from the current 6.5% to the EU average of 10.7% by 2030.
- Increasing international student numbers to 15% of the overall student population and employing strategies to achieve the Bologna target for outward mobility of 20% of the student population undertaking a study or internship placement abroad by 2025.