Written answers

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Legislative Measures

Photo of Paul McAuliffePaul McAuliffe (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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198. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider an amendment to the Technological Universities Act 2018 for section 12(j) to be amended to increase the number of education and training board nominees onto each technological university’s governing body from one to three nominees. [32312/21]

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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On 6 May I published the general scheme for new legislation aimed at reforming and modernising governance of the Higher Education sector. The proposed Higher Education Act 2021 will allow for strong internal governance of universities, technological universities and institutes of technology by reforming the size and composition of their governing bodies. Head 90 of the general scheme proposes amendment of Section 12 of the Technological Universities Act 2018 which provides for the membership of governing body of a technological university (TU). In order to support the objectives of the legislation to achieve effective and efficient governance, the governing bodies of TUs shall be significantly smaller than under current provisions. All external members are to be appointed using a skills based competency framework with consideration of experience and expertise relating to matters connected with the functions of the technological university to enable them to make a substantial contribution to the effective and efficient performance of those functions, or matters connected to education, teaching and learning, research, international perspectives, organisational and financial governance, management or public administration.

While the proposed reforming provision does not reference Education and Training Board (ETB) membership of a TU governing body explicitly it will be open to ETB members to seek nomination to the governing bodies of TUs in accordance with the procedures for nomination which will be put in place.

The reformed Higher Education Authority (HEA) legislation will provide for a co-regulation approach to governance such that each higher education institution (HEI) has primary responsibility for governance within an overall performance and regulatory framework including a clear accountability and reporting requirement to the HEA. This co-regulation model requires strong internal governance in HEIs. To secure strong internal governance, the governing bodies of HEIs should be of a size to allow for effective oversight. As proposed membership shall be predominantly competency-based rather than representational and a strong external component to membership of governing bodies is required if they are to provide genuine accountability. This aligns with the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 which recommended that HEI governing authorities should have a smaller number of members, with the majority external members and membership should be competency based.

In parallel with a move towards governing bodies that are smaller, more competency based and with a greater balance of external non-executive input, the legislation will seek to put in place effective consultation structures within HEIs and the higher education system to maintain a strong voice for stakeholders.


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