IUA Press Release 5th Oct - IUA breaks new ground with €12.3 million MC2 Micro-Credentials project under HCI Pillar 3

IUA universities secure €106.7 million funding under HCI Pillar 3

The IUA is delighted to have been awarded €12.3 million from Pillar 3 of the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) to establish a Multi-Campus Micro-Credentials (MC2) system across the seven universities over the next five years. Through the MC2 project, the IUA universities will establish a coherent national framework for ECTS-bearing micro-credentials, a system of certified qualifications in short courses delivered in flexible formats. This first-of-its-kind project will increase Irish university capacity to extract and adapt high-demand modules from existing programmes, and develop tailored courses, to suit the needs of enterprise and learners.

The MC2 project is one of 9 successful bids by the IUA universities as the lead institutions under HCI Pillar 3 with a total of €106.7 million secured in funding. The successful projects cover sustainability, next generation higher education teaching and graduates, virtual laboratories and more.

The impact of the MC2 programme will be transformative across the seven universities. The necessary innovative infrastructure will be created to support rapid development and roll-out of flexible and agile short courses across the university system. MC2 micro-credentials will be accredited by each university and included within the National Framework of Qualifications. The project will provide a basis for meaningful higher education system change to support skills development across enterprise and throughout the country for the benefit of all in Ireland’s 21st century knowledge economy.

Building on international best practice, this project will help Ireland to reach national and European targets on flexible higher education and lifelong learning, supporting competitiveness in this area of strategic importance and growing demand. This project will help to further the universities’ commitment to work in partnership with government and enterprise to expand capacity and to drive lifelong learning.

Commenting on the announcement, IUA Director General, Jim Miley said: “This is a hugely exciting development for our sector. It provides a platform for us to build on some of the great work already done by some of our individual universities in this area. It will enable Ireland to become the first country in Europe to establish a coherent, fully accredited programme of quality-assured micro-credentials across the network of universities.”

IUA are also proud partners with THEA and TU Dublin on a second successful project, Realising the potential of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and lifelong learning in Irish higher education which has been awarded €6.9 million. This project marks an innovative collaboration between all Irish universities, institutes of technology and the technological university, and has transformative potential for Ireland’s education system. It will support the development and roll-out of a National RPL Framework and higher education-enterprise engagement that will contribute to a dynamic workforce.

The IUA wishes to thank the Department of Further, Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Higher Education Authority for their work in developing and funding the innovative HCI programme.



For more information contact: 

Lia O’Sullivan | Head of Communications
Irish Universities Association | lia.osullivan@iua.ie | www.iua.ie

Tel: +353 (0)1 6764948 | Mob: +353 (0)85 714 1414


Additional Info: 

The MC2 project will be delivered in four strands over five years:

Strand 1 will develop the architecture of the national framework, including sector-wide agreed definitions on micro-credentials and linkages with national and institutional quality assurance, recognition and accreditation structures.

Strand 2 will develop a structured process for meaningful and ongoing collaboration with enterprise. Detailed research will provide an evidence-base to ensure target enterprise and learner needs are being met.

Strand 3 will develop an online portal for learners to provide information and gateway access to a curated menu of all micro-credentials across the seven universities.

Strand 4 will provide for the rapid development of capacity to roll-out micro-credentials across the seven universities, enabling each to develop a programme consistent with its own strengths and missions and within its own enterprise eco-system and regional context. Its estimated that 5,000 additional and new student places to be created across the universities under this strand.

The project will be overseen by a Steering Committee with input from an Enterprise Advisory Group, with a wide range of diverse enterprises, covering priority sectors and including SME representation. It will be driven at sectoral level in the IUA by a Project Manager and in each of the seven universities by a Project Lead. The IUA Registrars/ Vice-Presidents Academic Group will retain overall governance.

Additional successful IUA university projects: 

  • National University of Ireland, Galway: Next Generation Graduates
  • University College Cork (with MU and IT Sligo): Sustainability in Enterprise, Delivering a Low Carbon Future
  • University of Limerick: UL@Work
  • University College Cork (with CIT): The iEd Hub: Holistic education for enterprise, with enterprise in Healthcare and Biopharma
  • Maynooth University (with DCU, UCC, AIT, DKIT): Virtual Laboratories in higher education as an innovative pedagogical tool
  • Dublin City University: DCU Futures, A radical restructuring of the DCU Undergraduate Curriculum
  • Trinity College Dublin: Next generation teaching and learning for the changing needs of society and enterprise
  • University College Dublin (with IT Sligo and TU Dublin): The ADVANCE Centre for Professional Education