HEA Release - Revised ECF for Higher Education Sector


The Ministers for Education and Skills and Public Expenditure and Reform have approved a revised Employment Control Framework (ECF) for the Higher Education Sector. This revised ECF confirms the previous clarifications provided by the Higher Education Authority and Department of Education and Skills since the issue of the earlier ECF document in March. There are also some further changes as summarised in the note below.

HEA Chief Executive, Tom Boland, said,

“While everyone would prefer that controls on staffing were not necessary, the Framework provides reasonable flexibility to the higher education institutions to manage their staffing requirements. The revised Framework is a result of very constructive discussion between the HEA and the Departments.”

Since the restrictions in staffing levels were introduced to the higher education system in 2009, the number of staff across the sector has decreased by 1,361 (7%) resulting in ongoing annual savings of approximately €80m. At the same time, staff salaries have been reduced and student numbers have increased by 15%.

“The enhanced performance of the higher education sector has been very impressive”, Mr Boland said, “but we have to be constantly vigilant for any negative impact on quality”

Employment Control Framework for the Higher Education Sector 2011-2014

Note on main changes:

Categorisation of Staff

The three categorisations of staff to which the revised Framework applies are now as follows:

Core-funded staff

  • A ceiling will apply to core-funded posts, set by the HEA for each institution.
  • Institutions are permitted to fill vacancies up to the level of the ceiling subject to certain conditions.
  • The filling of these posts is no longer limited to fixed term or fixed purpose contract posts.

Non- Core funded Research and related project posts,( including commercialisation posts) funded from Exchequer resources external to the institution

  • No ceiling applies to this category.
  • An overall envelope of additional research posts is identified to provide for anticipated approved growth in Exchequer funded research activity over the period
  • There is now no requirement for proposals to appoint staff under this category to be put in advance to the HEA
  • Posts must be funded on a full cost recovery basis (including pension provision)

Other Research and/or Specialist project based posts funded from non-Exchequer sources.

  • There are no restrictions on the number of posts that may be created under this category.
  • There is now no requirement for proposals to appoint staff under this category to be put in advance to the HEA
  • Posts must be funded on a full cost recovery basis (including pension provision)

Transitional Arrangements for Research/Special Projects

The revised ECF has provided for transitional arrangements in relation to the requirement to include a 20% pension charge for research/specialist posts. Projects that were already well advanced when this new pension arrangement was introduced may now proceed under the “old” arrangements (pre 10th March). This means that the 20% pension charge will not apply in respect of individual appointments or re-appointments under these projects. The Framework clarifies the specific circumstances where the “old” arrangements will apply.


The ECF that issued in March 2011 allowed for academic/non-academic promotions subject to the maintenance of balance between grades. The benchmark at which this balance will be measured is now changed from 31 December 2010 to 31st December 2008. It is considered that this revised date will more accurately reflect the natural balance of posts between grades.


For further information, contact Malcolm Byrne, Head of Communications, Higher Education Authority (01) 231 7162 or (086) 22 37 102


Malcolm Byrne

Head of Communications
Higher Education Authority
Brooklawn House
Shelbourne Road
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 (0)1 2317 162

Fax: +353 (0)1 2317 172