Minister Harris has announced a €5 million fund to encourage teaching and learning initiatives across the higher education sector, as many universities and colleges across the country have moved primarily online.
The aim of the fund is to improve how to teach and learn in a digital world.
Speaking at the announcement, Harris said: “This funding call has been issued in response to Covid-19’s ongoing impact on the higher education sector.”
“In March 2020 when our colleges closed their doors, the sudden move to online and remote education brought great challenges,” he continued. “However, our higher education institutions rose to that challenge and brought about significant improvements to their students’ education.”
Trinity is to receive €438,000 under the new funding, supported by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. This is the second highest funding amount given to a university, after University College Dublin (UCD) and Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), which will both receive €575,000.
Harris added: “Today, we want to take that innovation and build on it. So we want to hear from you about how we can all learn to strengthen the student success across face-to-face, blended, online and remote teaching and learning contexts.”
“Through this fund we will learn and grow for the success of all our students.”
This funding comes in response to Covid-19’s lasting impact on the higher education sector, with most third level institutions being moved online in response to curve the spread of the virus.
The Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement (SATLE) funding comes alongside previous government investments made in the sector, namely the allocation of €3.3 billion in Budget 2021 to the newly created Department of Further and Higher Education.
The new funding allocation will be given to each “eligible institution”, with the aim of developing a “strong foundation for future enhancement of teaching and learning”.
This fund will be allocated to universities, colleges and the technology sector if each institution complies with certain criteria.
Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA remarked on the partnership with the National Forum, welcoming this funding call, that will “encourage closer alignment of student success, institutional priorities, national strategies and policy imperatives”.
The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is Ireland’s national body responsible for leading and advising on the enhancement of teaching and learning in Irish higher education.
The National Forum expressed its satisfaction at the prospect of collaborating with the HEA, as the director Dr Terry Maguire said: “The National Forum, in partnership with the HEA, looks forward to collaborating with institutions as they optimise the potential of this fund.”
“This call represents an opportunity to support the higher education community to consolidate any positive disruptions to process and practice that may have occurred in 2020, with a view to enhancing efforts towards holistic approaches to enabling student success.”
He continued: “The pandemic has taught us how quickly circumstances can change and the need for those who teach and those who learn to be confident in their knowledge and skills and supported in adapting their abilities to a variety of circumstances.”
Maguire added: “Through this €5m fund, the sector will be empowered to take a strategic and unified step forward with respect to enabling the success of all students.”
The current national higher education strategy previously outlined by Harris, the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, sets out teaching and learning as the first of three interconnected core roles of higher education in future years.