Regional Engagement mission of Irish Higher Education Institutions: Stakeholder perspectives and experiences

  • Declan Doyle

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


Regional Engagement mission of Irish Higher Education Institutions:
Stakeholder perspectives and experiences

Ireland’s objective to become an innovation and knowledge-based economy as described in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (2011) requires the tertiary education sector to act as a key driver of this process. The Irish higher education system has traditionally been categorised as a binary system primarily funded by public funds (Clancy, 1989; Kyvik, 2004). Within the sector are the research-intensive universities, the technological higher education sector comprising the Technological University of Dublin and the Institutes of Technology, and a small number of private colleges.

The higher education system in Ireland has undergone a decade of transformation and reform bookended by the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (2011) and the Technological Universities Act 2018. The prominence of external stakeholders is explicitly stated and accounted for in the Irish Technological Universities Act 2018. Government policy requires the technological sector to have a programme portfolio orientated with labour market needs, to improve linkages with the workplace, to engage in high-quality research that will have a vital impact on regional and national needs and their strategies must be consistent with regional and spatial strategies.

The National Planning Framework, Project 2040, is the overarching policy and planning framework for the social, economic, and cultural development of the State. The policy calls for an increase in the exchange and circulation of knowledge, including knowledge workers, by increasing access to knowledge and improving processes for the diffusion of knowledge with input and commitment from academia, business, government, and other organisations in the region and beyond. Universities are seen as playing a lead role in the economic development of the region served through a number of different measures. These include upgrading the human capital stock by attracting, developing and retaining graduates, providing a direct economic contribution to the GDP of the region as an employer and a purchaser of products and services, qualification effects, location effects, R&D effects, university technology transfer and spin-off of private firms (eg Bristow et al., 2011

The aim of this research project is to interrogate the processes influencing and impacting the regional engagement mission of the HEI, both at a system and institutional level. This research seeks to understand university engagement located within a regional context and a specific higher education system. The definition of engagement is a broad church and is taken to include all forms of engagement and connections the HEI has with the external stakeholder community.

This study focuses on Institute of Technology Carlow as a single case. The increased government policy emphasis on creating and maintaining links between regional stakeholders and higher education institutions requires a study into how different actors, internal and external to Institute of Technology Carlow, play their parts in this complex ecosystem. The case study was designed to increase understanding of the regional development mission of the Institute and the engagement with internal and external stakeholders of Institute of technology Carlow, through interviews, document analysis and surveys. This knowledge will be of particular use to the stakeholders in Ireland’s tertiary education sector and the policy makers impacting the sector.
Date of Award13 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJohn Brennan (Supervisor) & Charles Larkin (Supervisor)


  • Regional Development
  • Higher Education Policy
  • stakeholder engagement

Cite this