Quality culture in research education and training, outside of traditional research-intensive university systems: A QA agency perspective

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Author(s)Peter J Cullen
Ireland has a binary higher education system with universities and institutes of technology having diversified roles. This paper is concerned with the 13 institutes of technology. Most of the higher education research activity in Ireland is concentrated in the universities which account for more than 95% of doctoral graduates in recent years but there is significant research capacity outside the universities notably in the institutes of technology. During 2005 and 2006 the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) delegated authority to four institutes of technology to award PhD degrees. This is the first time that such higher education institutions have been given the power to award doctorates. The delegation is restricted in each case to specific self-selected fields of learning and it followed external evaluation by international panels of recognised experts. This development occurs at a time when significant investment is being made by Government in building research capacity. While Ireland has a long tradition of producing world-class individual researchers in science and technology it needs significantly more of these people to sustain development of a knowledge-based economy. Ireland's 'Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation' has made a strong commitment to science and technology and over the next six years seeks to double the PhD graduation rate and enhance the quality of the research environment. Ireland is a very attractive location for researchers in science and technology. This qualitative paper outlines the emergence, growth, continuing development, environment and quality assurance of a research culture in the institutes of technology and highlights some of the challenges for the future at this critical juncture in the development of research generally in the Irish HE system.
CategoriesQuality of HE » 2006 1st EQAF