The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Higher Education Futures

The Royal Irish Academy Higher Education Futures Group is currently exploring framework options for the future development of higher education across the island of Ireland.  It is examining a number of the key issues likely to influence and define the future shape and delivery of higher education, and draws on national and international voices and perspectives to inform the discussion.

The Higher Education Futures Group, under the leadership of the Academy’s Senior Vice President, Prof Gerry McKenna MRIA, is advisory. Its range of focus and activities include inter alia: the role of higher education on the island of Ireland and the effects of COVID-19 on its delivery and demand, the regional roles of higher education and the role of the technological universities, future funding models, and North-South collaboration in teaching and research (including future participation in EU and UK funding programmes).

The Higher Education Futures Group is informed by a wide range of discussions with stakeholders and networks and uses its convening power to stay connected with other relevant discussions ongoing in this area. It will soon publish outputs as part of a series as they are completed and accepted by the group. It is intended that the totality of outputs, along with a final overview provided by the group, will provide a framework for the maintenance and development of a world class, comprehensive and sustainable higher education sector within the island of Ireland.

It is planned that the programme of work and its outputs should be completed by late-2021.

News and events

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Higher Eudcation Futures Series

The Royal Irish Academy Higher Education Futures Taskforce has published a series of discussion papers outlining how higher education can lead the way when it comes to creating new opportunities, developing and supporting talent, research, skills, sustainability, equality on the island of Ireland in the years to 2035. 

The series of discussion papers from the Academy each focus on a priority area within the HE system; vision and values, research and innovation, regions, the future landscape and issues related to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Higher education futures working group members

Engagement and consultation

We welcome your insights and feedback and would love to hear your thoughts. We invite you to suggest ideas and issues for the Higher Education Futures Group to consider. Please send your comments to