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Minister Harris welcomes publication of Regional Dialogue Synopsis Report

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD welcomed the publication of the Regional Dialogue Synopsis Report arising from the Department’s Regional Dialogue Initiative 2023.

The Initiative saw senior Department officials meet with institutional leaders in regions across the country to explore synergies and to examine how best to drive stronger regional collaboration in delivering the Department’s policy objectives as well as addressing some of the major challenges facing the country.

Speaking today ahead of the launch of the report, Minister Harris said:

“I’m delighted today to welcome the publication of the Regional Dialogue Synopsis Report. This is the culmination of our Regional Dialogue Initiative 2023, and showcases the commitment to engagement that exists between my Department and the Higher and Further Education, Research and Innovation sectors in the regions.

“The Regional Dialogue Initiative provided an opportunity to listen to each other and better understand how we can expand and deepen the transformative impact the tertiary system has on the lives of individuals, on the vibrancy of our communities and the health of our economy.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to personally thank all the attendees from across the regions for their commitment to open conversation and engagement with the Regional Dialogue process.

“Over the course of these meetings we were able to understand more about what our sectors can do together to make their regions stronger, focusing on the things that matter most: inclusive societies, better regional economies, and adapting to climate change.”

Over the course of 6 meetings, 29 DFHERIS officials met with approx. 142 representatives from across the tertiary sector. The Report captures the essence of the information, thoughts and ideas that were shared and the learnings which emerged from the dialogue meetings. It reflects upon the unique features of each region and the most prevalent areas of discussion in the meetings and acknowledges the value of continuous regional engagement.

The Synopsis Report will play a key role in the development of a Tertiary Education Strategy, as provided for in the Higher Education Act 2022, which will encompass for the first time, a shared strategy for further education and training, higher education and research.


Regional Dialogue Initiative

As part of the response to feedback gathered in the Public Consultation, and based on the premise of two-way high-level dialogue, the Regional Dialogue Initiative has been created by DFHERIS to enable regions to develop and progress actions to achieve policy objectives of both DFHERIS and the wider government.  

The dialogue will be between DFHERIS and regional HE, FET, and R&I sector leaders, and other key stakeholders meeting together to discuss a series of agreed thematic agenda items focussed on the progression of a more unified tertiary system aligned with the achievement of Departmental and wider Government priorities.     

By opening up dialogue at a regional level DFHERIS is seeking to:

  • enable regions to expand and develop actions to achieve DFHERIS policy objectives and the wider Government objectives to which they are aligned providing a richer evidence base for future DFHERIS policy and funding strategies  
  • progress a more unified tertiary system by meeting leaders together and stimulating the development of regionally-based unified actions focusing on the impact and contribution that the system can make to Government priorities  
  • communicate the work of DFHERIS in a coherent way that is relevant to our stakeholders and to seek feedback on this, strengthening the potential for collaborative work on shared objectives  
  • raise the profile and expand the visibility of DFHERIS, expand the stakeholder network and open up more effective engagement at a regional level.   

The schedule of meetings is set out below:

15/06/2023Northern and Western region I – Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan [plus Dundalk]Cavan Crystal Hotel, Co Cavan 
23/06/2023North Western Region II - Roscommon, Sligo, Galway, MayoUniversity of Galway 
26/06/2023Southern region I – Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, TipperaryUniversity College Cork 
28/06/2023Southern region II - Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, WexfordSETU Arena, Waterford
29/06/2023Eastern and Midlands region II – Dublin, Kildare, WicklowChartered Accountants House, Dublin
06/11/2023 Eastern and Midlands region I – Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, LouthTUS Athlone Campus

Dialogue and information sharing between DFHERIS and stakeholders will provide a strong foundation for the development of the Tertiary Education Strategy as provided for in the Higher Education Authority Act 2022. 

Unified Tertiary System

The Department is developing a policy vision to progress a more unified tertiary education and research system, details of which were noted by Government on 24th May 2022.   

The vision is for a well-functioning, unified tertiary system for knowledge and skills, composed of complementary further education and training, higher education and research and innovation sectors, characterised by:  

  • Flexible, diverse and aligned learning and development opportunities  
  • Clear, navigable and extensive pathways for learners, researchers, educators and innovators   
  • Coherent skills and qualifications frameworks aligned to current and future skills needs  
  • Diffusion and creation of new knowledge, skills and innovation across the system  
  • Resilience, adaptiveness and preparedness for the challenges and opportunities future changes may present (e.g. technological, demographic and climate change)  
  • Comprehensive regional and national systems, policies, support and resources that are coherent and balanced in meeting these objectives