Limerick colleges deemed 'excellent' by HEA in report


Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Limerick colleges deemed 'excellent' by HEA in report

President of MIC, Professor Michael A. Hayes, and outgoing LIT president Maria Hinfelaar. Both institutions, along with UL, were deemed to have made excellent progress

THE University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology and Mary Immaculate College have made “excellent progress” in terms of its objectives, according to a national report by the Higher Education Authority on system performance findings.

The report said that these institutions showed an excellent capacity to benchmark progress through robust self-evaluation, and an excellent ability to learn from past successes and failures.

The three Limerick institutions are placed alongside another 14 educational bodies in the ‘excellent’ category.

However, three institutions which did not meet the agreed performance level now face a potential funding penalty.

These are Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Dundalk Institute of Technology and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin.

A further six were found to be merely “adequate” in their progress against key objectives. They include Athlone Institute of Technology; Dublin Institute of Technology; IT Tralee; IT Blanchardstown; IT Tallaght; and Letterkenny IT.

Professor  Michael A Hayes, president of Mary Immaculate College, said they are delighted to be placed within the excellent progress category.  

“Following a period of extremely challenging times, with the sector witnessing significant cuts to funding and staffing levels, this assessment brings very welcome news.

“The college has emerged from what proved to be a most trying period in a stronger position than any it has enjoyed over its 117-year history.

“The future of MIC as an autonomous, independent institution within the higher education landscape is assured,” said president Hayes.

The report by the HEA is on foot of the recommendation of the Hunt Report (2011), that future funding for third level institutions should be related to performance. The HEA then  introduced an annual performance evaluation sys-tem, outlining what was expected from the higher education sector under key headings, including meeting skills needs, equity of access and excellence in research, and knowledge exchange.  

In 2014 each institution entered into an agreement with the HEA regarding which of the national objectives they would focus on, given their strengths and mission with these agreements providing metrics to assess performance. 

Each review was assessed in the first instance by the institution itself before being submitted to the HEA for review in addition to being assessed by an international panel of advisers.