Partnership and collaboration in the new higher education landscape – the 3U Partnership experience

Ruth Davis, Mary Fenton


It is not an overstatement to say that the Irish higher education sector is currently experiencing the most significant and fundamental period of structural reform in its entire history.  This reform, which is underpinned by the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 aka the Hunt Report (HEA, 2011b), is set against a backdrop of a severe economic crisis, high unemployment and emigration rates and drastically reduced Government spending.  Despite this, the sector is, and will be for some decades to come, required to accommodate greater demands for higher education places fuelled by rising population demographics, a broadening of participation and a variety of national recovery policies which seek to emphasise Ireland’s highly educated workforce as an attractor for foreign direct investment (HEA, 2008; DES, 2014; DJEI, 2015; HEA, 2015a).  This commentary looks at the new higher education policy context that is driving change in the Irish Higher Education sector with a particular focus on the area of mergers and regional clusters which are at the heart of current structural reforms.  Specifically, the authors provide an insider’s perspective of 3U Partnership, a collaboration between DCU, Maynooth University and RCSI, that has been cited by the HEA (2013a) as “an important building block” within the Greater Dublin / Leinster regional cluster (Pillar II).


3U Partnership; Collaboration; Partnership; Higher Education Landscape; Higher Education Policy; Regional Cluster

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