The IUA’s proposal, Towards a Multi-Campus Micro-Credentials (MC2) system across the universities, has been approved for funding of €12.3 million over 2020-2024 by Minister Simon Harris. This results from a competitive process under the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science ’s Human Capital Initiative, with the funding drawn from the National Training Fund.
Through the MC2 project, the IUA universities will lead the establishment of a national framework for ECTS-bearing, quality-assured micro-credentials, the first in Europe. This will facilitate the development of a programme of micro-credentials, each flexibly delivered and accredited by a university and included within the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The project furthers the universities’ commitment to work in partnership with government and enterprise to drive lifelong learning in Ireland.
Strand 1 will develop the architecture of the national micro-credentials framework, collaborating with key stakeholders, e.g. Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), to include sector-wide agreed definitions on micro-credentials and links with European, national and institutional quality assurance procedures, recognition and accreditation structures.
Strand 2 will develop a structured process for collaboration with enterprise, harnessing existing university-enterprise links. Detailed needs analyses will be undertaken, and structures will be established to drive uptake of MC2 micro-credentials as they are rolled out. The project had buy-in from key stakeholders from the proposal phase, with interest to sit on an Enterprise Advisory Group expressed by 10 initial enterprise partners, covering diverse groups and priority sectors. The first meeting of this EAG takes place in January 2021.
Strand 3 will develop an online ‘shop window’ portal for learners to provide information and gateway access to a curated menu of micro-credentials across the universities (following evaluation of existing/ proposed portals for possible adaptation). Learners will be directed to universities for applications, admissions and course delivery, etc. The portal will drive awareness and help to grow the market and encourage further registrations.
Strand 4 will provide for rapid development and roll-out of micro-credentials across the universities, enabling each to develop a programme in line with its strengths and contexts.
Dr Lynn Ramsey is the Programme Lead for the Multi-Campus Micro-Credentials (MC2) Project, based at the Irish Universities Association.