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enhanced to POERUP level by Paul Bacsich in 2013
Re.ViCa/VISCED version by Nikki Cortoos with additional research by Sally Reynolds of ATiT

For the latest (2014) information on OER, MOOCs and open learning in Ireland see the OER Policy in Ireland report File:POERUP D4.3 IE.pdf by Paul Bacsich

For entities in Ireland see Category:Ireland


Partners and experts in Ireland

  • Jim Devine, Ireland
  • Sally Reynolds, ATiT, Belgium

Ireland in a nutshell

(sourced from Republic of Ireland)

Ireland (Irish: Éire) is a country in north-western Europe. The modern state occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland, which was first partitioned in 1921. It is bordered by Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) to the north, by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and by the Irish Sea to the east.

Legally, the term Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann) is the description of the State but Ireland is its name

In the early 20th century, Ireland became the successor-state to the Irish Free State. Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe and had high emigration. The protectionist economy was opened in the late 1950s and Ireland joined the European Union) in 1973. An economic crisis led Ireland to start large-scale economic reforms in the late 1980s. Ireland reduced taxation and regulation dramatically compared to other EU countries.

Today, the Index of Economic Freedom ranks Ireland as the world's third most economically free country. This liberalisation has transformed Ireland into one of the fastest growing, richest, most developed and peaceful countries on earth, having the fifth highest gross domestic product per capita and the eighth highest gross domestic product per capita considering purchasing power parity. Ireland also has high rankings for its education system, political freedom and civil rights, press freedom and economic freedom; it was also judged one of the few "sustainable" states in the world. Ireland has emerged as an attractive destination and foreign immigrants who now make up approximately 10% of the population. Ireland's population is the fastest growing in Europe with an annual growth rate of 2.5%.

Ireland has a population of around 4.7 million (July 2012 estimate by CIA's World Factbook). Comparing it with other nearby English-speaking regions - the UK home nations - this makes it bigger than Wales and nearly the size of Scotland. In EU terms it is bigger than each one of the Baltic States but smaller than Finland, Denmark and Slovakia. In terms of countries relevant to benchmarking, it is just larger than New Zealand.

Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:Ireland.

Education in Ireland

The education systems are largely under the direction of the government. The Department of Education and Science (, under the control of the Minister for Education and Science, is in overall control of policy, funding and direction, whilst other important organisations are the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland ( and the Higher Education Authority ( There are many other statutory and non-statutory bodies which have a function in the education system. Recognised primary and secondary schools must adhere to the curriculum established by authorities that have power to set them.

The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Ireland's education as the 20th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.

State owned Primary, Secondary and Tertiary (University/College) level education are all free in Ireland for all EU citizens.

Ireland education system (sourced from

All children must receive compulsory education between the ages of six and fifteen years, inclusive. The Constitution of Ireland allows this education to be provided in the home;[ this has caused much legal wrangling for years as to the minimum standards required for home education since the constitution does not explicitly provide for the State to define these minimum standards.

In 1973 the requirement to pass the Irish language in order to receive a second-level certificate was dropped although a student attending a school which receives public money must be taught the language. Certain students may get an exemption from learning Irish; these include students who have spent a significant period of time abroad or students with a learning difficulty.

English is the primary medium of instruction at all levels, except in Gaelscoileanna (schools in which Irish is the working language and which are increasingly popular). Universities also offer degree programmes in diverse disciplines, taught mostly through English, with a few in Irish.

Education is compulsory all for children in Ireland from the ages of 6 to 16 or until students have completed three years of second-level education.

Four-year-olds and five-year-olds are enrolled in the junior or senior infant classes.

For further detail see the Wikipedia article Education in the Republic of Ireland and the Eurydice "Eurybase" article Organisation of the education system in Ireland 2003/04.

Department of Education and Skills

The Department of Education and Skills is a department of the Irish state with responsibility for education and training. The mission of the Department is to provide high-quality education, which will:

  • Enable individuals to achieve their full potential and to participate fully as members of society, and
  • Contribute to Ireland's social, cultural and economic development.

In pursuit of this mission, the Department has the following high-level goals:

  • To promote equity and inclusion
  • To promote quality outcomes
  • To promote lifelong learning
  • To plan for education that is relevant to personal, social, cultural and economic need
  • To enhance the capacity of the Department of Education and Skills for service delivery, policy formulation, research and evaluation.

In support of these high-level goals, the Department is engaged in a wide range of activities covering the key elements of policy planning, quality assurance, resourcing, regulation and evaluation, as well as providing a broad range of support services for the education sector

Further information

For a general description of education in Ireland see Education:Ireland.

Schools in Ireland

Primary School

The year stages consist of Junior Infants (not compulsary) and Senior Infants (not compulsary), then six years (First Class tp Sixth Class).

Primary education is generally completed at a national school, a multidenominational school or a gaelscoil.

Secondary School

This consists of:

  • a Junior Cycle of three years (First Year, Second Year, Third Year) with the Junior Certificate examination sat at the end of this year, which marks the end of compulsary education)
  • a Transition Year (optional in some schools, compulsary in others)

a Senior Cycle, of twp years (Fifth Year, Sixth Year), with the Leaving Certificate examination sat at the end of this year.

Most students attend and complete secondary education, with approximately 90% of school-leavers taking the Leaving Certificate. Secondary education is generally completed at a community school, a comprehensive school, a vocational school or a voluntary secondary school.

In urban areas, there is great freedom in choosing the type of school the child will attend. The education system emphasis at second level is as much on breadth as on depth; the system attempts to prepare the individual for society and further education or work. This is similar to the education system in Scotland.

Further and Higher education

Higher Education in Ireland consists of:

  • the universities (with associated colleges of education)
  • institutes of technology, and
  • a number of private independent colleges.

The universities and institutes of technology are autonomous and self-governing, but are substantially state-funded.

Universities in Ireland

There are nine universities in the island of Ireland - two in Northern Ireland and seven in the Republic. (The two universities in Northern Ireland are the University of Ulster and the Queen's University of Belfast.) All nine work together as Universities Ireland.

The National University of Ireland (NUI) is a federal institute consisting of four constituent universities: University College Dublin, National University of Ireland Dublin; University College Cork, National University of Ireland Cork; National University of Ireland Galway and National University of Ireland Maynooth.

NUI also has three recognised colleges: National College of Art and Design (NCAD), The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and St. Angela's College of Education. The University of Limerick (UL) and Dublin City University (DCU) are our newest universities and were founded in 1989.

There are seven universities in Ireland the Republic.

  1. Trinity College Dublin (TCD), founded in 1592, the oldest university in Ireland
  2. University College Dublin founded 1908
  3. University College Cork
  4. National University of Ireland, Galway
  5. National University of Ireland, Maynooth founded 1795 as St Patrick's College
  6. University of Limerick, founded in 1989
  7. Dublin City University (DCU), founded in 1977 as National Institute for Higher Education Dublin NIHED; established as University 1989.

The National University of Ireland also has three recognised colleges: National College of Art and Design, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and St. Angela's College of Education.

Several universities are involved in continuing and distance education programmes (aimed mainly at Irish residents).

Universities Ireland

The nine universities on the island of Ireland have established Universities Ireland, a new 'umbrella' body to promote co-operation and collaboration among universities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and to enhance their reputations internationally. The new organisation was launched by the university presidents in July 2003 and will undertake work in a number of designated areas. These include:

  • Research projects to improve North-South inter-university co-operation, e.g. on the harmonisation of regulations (see below)
  • Conferences on matters of common interest to universities on the island, e.g. e-learning
  • Work on 'branding' the Irish universities abroad, and improving the island of Ireland's profile in the international student recruitment market
  • Development of university-industry links, technology and research transfer on an 'island of Ireland' basis
  • Staff development and training issues

Universities Ireland is funded by an annual levy paid by the nine universities, and by grants from the Department of Education and Science in Dublin, the Department for Employment and Learning in Belfast and InterTradeIreland.

The Council of Universities Ireland consists of the nine university presidents, with representatives from the Department of Education and Science, the Department for Employment and Learning and InterTradeIreland present as observers.


SCONUL is the Society of College, National and University Libraries. It promotes excellence in library services in higher education and national libraries across the United Kingdom and Ireland. All universities in the UK and Ireland are SCONUL members: so too are many of the UK's colleges of higher education. Also members are the major national libraries in UK and Ireland

Irish Universities Association

The Irish Universities’ Association (IUA) is the representative body of the heads of the seven Irish universities (that is, those in the Republic of Ireland). IUA is a non-profit making body created in the late 1970s as the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities (CHIU) and was formally incorporated in 1997 with charitable status and adopted its current name in 2005. The mission of the IUA is to collectively formulate and pursue policies which advance education and research in the universities of the Republic of Ireland.

Central Applications Office

The higher education institutions in the Republic of Ireland have delegated to CAO the task of processing centrally applications to their first year undergraduate courses. The participating institutions retain the function of making decisions on admissions. CAO is required to deal with applications in an efficient and fair manner. CAO is a not-for-profit company registered in Ireland

Further information

Universities offer degree programmes in diverse disciplines, taught mostly through English, with a few in Irish.

Several universities are involved in continuing and distance education programmes (aimed mainly at Irish residents).

In addition, Hibernia College offers distance education in certain subjects to Ireland, the UK and beyond.

Atlantic Universities Alliance is a consortium of University College Cork, University of Limerick, NUI Galway which is delivering distance education undergraduate and masters programmes in technology and sciences.

Overall enrolments to the HE system continue to increase with over 196,000 fulltime and part-time students enrolled in HEA-funded institutions in 2011/12. This represents an increase of 1.6% over the previous year. The number of Ph D enrolments continues to increase with over 7,600 full-time PHD students in HEA-funded institutions, reflecting the continuing development of graduate education in Ireland.

Another key trend is the increase in part-time and flexible learning, with a one year increase of 3.7% in the number of part-time students. The number of students engaged in distance education has shown a one year increase of 30%.

Polytechnics in Ireland

In this subsection we discuss the institutes of technology and the private providers.

Institutes of Technology

There are currently 14 Institutes of Technology located throughout Ireland (the Republic) offering programmes at degree, national diploma and national certificate levels in a wide variety of subjects. Their qualifications are externally validated by Ireland's national certification authorities HETAC and FETAC. Many of the Institutes of Technology also run postgraduate diploma and degree programmes, both taught and research.

See Institute of Technologies website at

Independent Third Level Colleges

These colleges offer programmes leading to certificates, diplomas and degrees, which have received recognition by Ireland's national certification authority or from other external accreditation institutions (such as universities). Courses on offer include: Accountancy and Business Studies, Law, Humanities, Hotel & Catering, Tourism Studies and Art.

Colleges of Education

There are five Colleges of Education for primary school teachers. These colleges offer three year full time courses leading to a B.Ed degree which is the recognised qualification for primary school teaching.

Colleges in Ireland

Further education was for many years the "poor relation" of education in Ireland. There were many different, often poorly defined, awards offered by a multitude of bodies, both ad-hoc and statutory. Typical areas included apprenticeships, childcare, farming, retail, and tourism. These are typical areas of the economy that do not depend on multinational investment and recognition. There are many different types of further education awards, known as Post Leaving Certificates.

The Further Education and Training Awards Council (now part of QQI) confers awards in the extra-university system. Further education has expanded immensely in recent years helped by the institutions, and because of this the type and range of these awards have been formalized to restore confidence. There are two separate schemes enabling progression for holders of FETAC awards to Universities and Institutes of Technology. FETAC awards carry points which can be used to access higher education.

There are around 40 further education colleges in the Republic of Ireland.

Education reform



The Bologna Process

(sourced from

A national steering group has been established to oversee the implementation of the Bologna Process. It is chaired by the Department of Education and Science and has nominees of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Council of Directors of Institutes of Technology (CoDIT), the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Union of Students of Ireland (USI).

The implementation of the Bologna Process is now facilitated by 5 Bologna Promoters who provide a resource to the wider higher education community in responding to the challenges of the Process.

Progress to date (sourced from

The Irish Higher Education Quality Network was established in October 2003 as a formal network. The network comprises the main organisations with a role or significant interest in quality assurance in higher and education and training in Ireland. The network is working towards the development of a common national position on key quality assurance issues, in order to inform the debate on those same issues at the European level. The network provides a forum for discussion of quality assurance issues amongst the principal national stakeholders involved in the quality assurance of higher education and training in Ireland and allow for the dissemination of best practice in quality assurance amongst practitioners and policy makers involved in the Irish higher education and training sector.

The Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999 has been enacted, with one of its key tasks being the establishment of the National Framework of Qualifications. The first milestone was reached in July 2004 with the announcement of the implementation arrangements for the framework in higher education. Awards at levels 6 to 10 will be made by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and the Dublin Institute of Technology, while universities make the awards from level 7 to 10. The framework, however, does not impose any requirements in relation to the duration of programmes, rather, the emphasis is on the development of learning outcomes.

The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has established a steering group with nominees of the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, the Irish Universities Association and the Dublin Institute of Technology, as well as two international experts, to oversee a process to verify the compatibility of the National Framework of Qualifications with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area by autumn 2006.

The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland is the Irish centre for the recognition of international awards, and represents Ireland in a European Network of centres known as ENIC/NARIC (European National Information Centre/National Academic Recognition Information Centre) and NRP (National Reference Point) which promote the recognition of international awards throughout Europe.

A Recognition Implementation Group has also been formed comprising representatives of the NQAI, the Department of Education and Science, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, the Further Education and Training Awards Council and the universities. This group is responsible for assisting in the management of the implementation of the national policy approach to the recognition of international awards.

With regard to the Diploma Supplement, the Department of Education and Science chaired a Working Group, charged with responsibility of developing a National Template for this document. This was formally launched by the Minister for Education and Science in February 2004. It is envisaged that most higher education institutions will issue the DS to graduates in 2005.

The National Qualifications Authority in Ireland has been designated the National Europass Centre (NEC) in Ireland. The NEC is currently developing a national Europass internet site.

Third cycle study in Ireland is not limited to university provision. All higher education institutions may provide postgraduate research degrees programmes, in accordance with the principles of the National Framework of Qualifications. Level 10 refers to third cycle studies. Progression from one award to the next is set out, for example, in the policies and procedures that describe the operation of the National Framework. Progression from the Honours Bachelor Degree (level 8) cycle 1 to the research award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) cycle 3, is possible as is progression to PhD is from the Masters Degree award at level 9, cycle 2.

OECD Review

In 2003, the Irish Department of Education and Science invited the OECD Secretariat to undertake a review of Irish higher education to evaluate the performance of the sector and recommend how it can better meet Ireland’s strategic objectives for the sector. The review was organised within the framework of the OECD's education policy reviews. Following preparation of a Background Report by the Irish authorities [EDU/EC(2004)13], a team of OECD examiners visited Ireland from 15 to 27 February and prepared a report [EDU/EC(2004)14]. These documents together with “Suggested Issues for Discussion” [EDU/EC(2004)15] comprise the documentation for the special session of the Education Committee to review Irish higher education policy. The Examiners’ Report was prepared by an independent team with assistance from the Secretariat. It is based on the Background Report prepared by the Irish authorities (EDU/EC (2004)13) and interviews and meetings that the review team conducted during its visit to Ireland. The document is at

Strategic Innovation Fund

In Rebruary 2008 the Ministry announced a 97 million euro programme of higher education reform. This was within the context of the National Development Plan Transforming Ireland.

The programme covered many areas outside e-learning - in fact most was outside e-learning. A cut-down version of the press release is below, with parts relevant to e-learning highlighted in italics.

A total of 31 projects have been approved of which 30 are collaborative.

The programme is to support internal change, enhance collaboration between higher education institutions, improve teaching and learning, as well as promote access and lifelong learning and support the development of fourth level education.

In all, 17 institutions have been approved for funding as lead institutions, as well as two sectoral submissions from the Irish Universities Association and the Institutes of Technology Ireland.

This is the second funding announcement under the Government's Strategic Innovation Fund.

  • At under-graduate level, students will benefit directly from teaching and learning innovations, improved engagement in the process of learning, and improved learning supports as well as significant access initiatives.

New opportunities for workplace based learning will be supported. At an organisational level, the process of internal re-structuring and development will be given further impetus, enabling institutions to grow into the demanding roles now expected of them as innovation leaders in the knowledge society."

Key areas under this round of SIF that relate to e-learning are:

  • €35.9 million is provided for proposals seeking to enhance the systems of teaching and learning in higher education.
  • €15.7 million has been allocated for lifelong learning and up-skilling.
  • €13 million has been allocated in the area of institutional restructuring.
  • €11.8 million has been allocated to the area of access for under-represented groups.

Over the lifetime of the whole programme, a total of €510 million is being targeted through the SIF to support reforms and collaboration in higher education.

Each of the universities and institutes of technology will be involved in successful initiatives under the awards, either as a lead institute or collaborating partner. Some 13 involve alliances between universities and institutes of technology.

Examples of the new collaborations supported under the new round of funding were given by the Ministry. However, the only one that appears to link to e-learning is:-

  • Institutes of Technology, Ireland: Addressing the Needs of the Knowledge Economy. The proposal involves partnerships between all Institutes of Technology and DIT. In keeping with current government and market need, the IoT's and DIT commit to mainstreaming supported flexible learning within and between their institutes to expand the number of people in the workforce engaged in education and development.

Support for OER

In Ireland, universities have received government funding to build open access institutional repositories and to develop a federated harvesting and discovery service via a national portal[1]. It is intended that this collaboration will be expanded to embrace all Irish research institutions.

National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030

This document makes a large number of recommendations. None mention OER or open educational resources specifically. However, there are several mentions of e-learning, but only one in the recommendations.

Higher education students of the future should have an excellent teaching and learning experience, informed by up-to-date research and facilitated by a high-quality learning environment, with state-of-the-art learning resources, such as libraries, laboratories, and e-learning facilities.

There are other mentions in the text. A long quote follows:

While large group teaching, supplemented by tutorials and laboratory sessions, will continue to be the bedrock of instruction in higher education, it will increasingly be complemented by e-learning (including podcasting and online discussion groups), self-directed learning, problem-based learning, and collaborative projects.

This chapter deals with the first of the three interconnected core roles of higher education – that of providing teaching and facilitating learning. It describes how the system must respond over the coming years to changes in the composition of the student body, to new technologies and their potential for enhancing the learning experience, and to changes in the external environment. Appropriate response to these changes will ensure that higher education students of the future will have an excellent learning experience, informed by up-to-date research and facilitated by a high-quality learning environment, with state-of-the-art learning resources, such as libraries, laboratories, and e-learning facilities.

Transnational education is becoming ever more important, and is based on innovations such as branch campuses, e-learning/distance learning, and joint degree programmes – in some countries it has become more important than the teaching of international students on home campuses. This is the stage on which Irish higher education institutions operate and it clearly demands a strategic approach to internationalisation and global engagement. In this regard, it is crucial that internationalisation in higher education in Ireland is understood in its broadest context, and not just from a revenue-generating point of view.

Competitiveness in the international area, and capacity for global engagement, may benefit from institutional adaptations and reform. These include more flexible deployment of staff, a more diverse and internationally experienced staff cohort, more intensive use of resources, increased use of innovative forms of delivery (such as e-learning), changes to programme structures (including full semesterisation and full calendar year programmes) and increased overseas delivery of programmes (for example, in Irish-linked, or Irish-administered institutions overseas).

Student body: While retaining diversity of current school leaver population, significant increases in the numbers of part-time students to facilitate upskilling. Provision of evening, weekend and summertime campus learning, open distance e-learning and work-based learning.

It also recommends that one of the KPI metrics should be:

  • Proportion of students who are engaged in upskilling and non-traditional study arrangements (part-time, e-learning etc.);

Are MOOCs the future for the Irish Higher Education Sector?

The following "Op Ed" paper sums up some current dilemmas:

Where then stands the Irish third level? Employing 23,000 staff (9400 academic….) and reaching 13,000 students it’s a large industry. As of 2011 for all HEA funded institutions, university and IT, only 4000 students, 2%, were engaged in what it terms flexible learning, which includes distance and in service education. Compare this with the USA where 30% of all students take at least one course online. Ireland has a long way to go. Credit based courses where students can take their degrees in their own time at their own pace are a rarity ; most HE institutions are barely visible online; not a single Irish university has or seems to have plans to have a MOOC (although TCD is contemplating one and is hosting a major international symposium on online education in February) ; UCC is developing a major online presence in postgraduate education across a number of areas ; the HEA is understood to be supportive of moves to create a greater online presence while preserving the on campus experience. Thus some movement might reasonably be expected in the near future. While the obvious MOOC , if we want it to act as a shop window for Irish universities, would be one on Irish studies, we should not stop there. Despite the doom that is poured out that we have no university in the top 100, every single Irish university is in the top 5% of the THES rankings. Every one is world class. We have a world-class industry here. Within disciplines we have world-class researchers and teachers, in pretty much ever-single discipline. A MOOC or ten would demonstrate that, to the public and to the wider world. Every international student is an export – lets place ourselves in the world shop window.

Administration and finance



(sourced from

Higher education institutions

Central funding

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) manages and disburses recurrent funds to the universities, institutes of technology and other designated colleges.

(These other colleges include: Mary Immaculate College Limerick, St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra, National College of Art and Design, Mater Dei Institute of Education, St. Angela’s College Sligo, the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.)

These recurrent funds include core recurrent grants, grants in respect of the "Free Fees" Scheme, funding in respect of increased student intake, supplementary funding requirements, and other miscellaneous initiatives that may require funding.

Supervision of the universities in financial terms consists of:

  • The ongoing development of the Recurrent Grant Allocation Model
  • Evaluating and agreeing budgets with the institutions for the expenditure of these monies
  • Evaluating and agreeing the format of audited accounts from the universities and the institutes of technology
  • Analysis of staffing and related expenditure
  • Preparation of annual Estimates submission to Department of Education and Science
  • Recommending amounts of recurrent funds required
  • Annual fee increase negotiations
  • Collection and analysis of unit cost data
  • Administration of reporting requirements for ESF/NDP programmes
  • Compilation of courses eligible for tax relief in third level institutions

The Physical Development Section of HEA is responsible for the capital funding allocated to universities, institutes of technology and other designated institutions that are funded from the Higher Education Authority's capital grant. Types of projects overseen by the section include: construction of new buildings, refurbishment, infrastructure development and property acquisition. Its work also includes evaluating proposals from higher education institutions seeking funding for approved projects, the setting of project budgets and the monitoring of project progress and expenditure.

The Ministry also uses the Strategic Innovation Fund to drive reform (see the section on Higher Education Reform.)

Student fees

Undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses do not have to pay tuition fees if they are EU citizens. Under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative, the Department of Education and Skills pays the fees to the colleges instead. A separate annual charge is payable to colleges for the costs of student services and examinations.

Non-EU students do have to pay fees, set at a cost-recovery level. Some students with a less direct connection to the EU pay an "EU fee" rate.

Most colleges charge an annual student contribution, the student services charge or registration fee, which covers student services and examinations. The amount of the contribution varies from one institution to another. The maximum rate of the student contribution for the academic year 2013-2014 is €2,500.

Student grants provide financial support to eligible students, with a maintenance grant and a fee grant. A maintenance grant is a contribution towards student living costs.

Quality assurance



Quality assurance in HE is overseen by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) which is a full member of ENQA.

Information society

The Information Society Commission (ISC) was established in 2001 and its term of office expired in 2004. There are a number of useful publications on the website.

Its functions have been subsumed into the Department of the Taoiseach see extract: 'The Information Society Policy Unit (ISPU) in the Department of the Taoiseach has overall responsibility for developing, co-ordinating and driving implementation of the Information Society agenda. Our aim is to ensure that Ireland develops as a fully participative, competitive, knowledge-based Information Society, with all of the benefits that entails. Work is ongoing on the development of a new national action plan on the knowledge society, which will be published over the coming months. This third national action plan will succeed Implementing the Information Society in Ireland (1999) and New Connections (2002).'

Internet in Ireland

An estimated 65% of homes in Ireland have broadband, whether it be fixed or mobile. Some 37 % of all fixed broadband subscriptions were equal or greater than 10 Mbps up 7.4 per cent from 30.1 per cent since the last quarter. Fixed broadband subscriptions equal to or greater than 30 Mbps accounted for 30%up from 20% in the second quarter the previous year.

Educational internets in Ireland

HEAnet is the national education and research network of Ireland. HEAnet’s e-infrastructure services underpin academic research and education activity in Ireland with approximately 200,000 students and staff (third-level) and approximately 800,000 students and staff (first and second-level) relying on the HEAnet network. Its network connects all Irish Universities, all Institutes of Technology, other higher education institutions (HEIs) and research organisations, in addition to all primary and post-primary schools across Ireland.

Copyright law in Ireland

Copyright law of Ireland is applicable to most typical copyright situations (films, sound recordings books etc.). Protection expires 70 years after the death of the author/creator. Irish law includes a provision for "fair dealing" similar to that used by other countries.

Irish copyright law is subject to EU directive 2001/29/EC - Harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, most of the provisions of which were transposed into Irish law under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000. Irish copyright law was brought into further compliance with the EU directive by the amendment act European Communities (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2004. The 2000 Act repeals much earlier Irish copyright law, but not all.

Until 93/98/EEC the term of copyright protection on a work was the life of the author and 50 years after death. Broadly, Irish copyright applies to books for seventy years from the end of the year of death of the author, editor or creator. The term for films is also seventy years, but the expiry conditions are more complex. Where a work is genuinely anonymous or pseudonymous, copyright expires 70 years from the end of the year of creation.

Sound recordings, and broadcast and cable programmes, are protected for 50 years from first transmission.

Any work created by any officer or employee of the Irish Government or State is protected by Government copyright, which is regulated somewhat differently from general Irish copyright law, and which lasts 50 years from the end of the year in which the work is created. The position of State companies is not clear, so, for example, Ordnance Survey mapping up to the reconstitution of OSi as a state company is copyright for 50 years, while mapping published after that time may, or may not, be subject to a longer term.

Since 2005 Government organizations, local authorities and state-sponsored bodies are obliged by law to have a permissive reuse policy for copyrighted material under the Directive on the re-use of public sector information. The Government has a dedicated website on the re-use of public sector information.

A work may be used by anyone for the purposes of research or private study without the permission of the author, provided the use is conducted in a way which does not prejudice the rights of the copyright owner. The work may also be used for criticism or review or for reporting current events, with the same proviso, and provided further that the use of the work is accompanied by an acknowledgement identifying the author and the title of the work. This bundle of exceptions is known as “fair dealing”. (Although the legislation does not state the fact, it is unlikely that the making of multiple copies of a work will ever qualify as fair dealing.) The use of author’s works for certain educational purposes is permitted. These include the use of the work in examinations, and the inclusion of a short passage from the work in an anthology for schools.

A process of reform of Ireland’s copyright regime is under way, aimed at maximising the potential of Ireland’s digital industries.

Creative Commons Ireland has developed relevant licenses.

ICT in education initiatives


European Schoolnet report on Ireland 2012

This report states:

ICT IN THE SCHOOL EDUCATION SYSTEM OF IRELAND In Ireland the Department of Education and Skills (DES) is responsible for the overall administration of education at all levels. Each school is managed by a management board representative of trustees, parents, teachers and the local community. Boards of management are supported through guidance documentation, advice and training provided by the relevant management bodies and the Department and supported through core funding from the Department. While almost all primary schools and the majority of post-primary schools are locally owned and managed, schools have relatively limited autonomy especially in relation to curriculum and the pedagogical methods employed. The curriculum is laid down from the centralised administration and the local Inspectorate ensures adherence to the rules and to the teaching of the curriculum. According to Eurydice’s Key Data on Learning and Innovation through ICT at school in Europe, in Ireland there are national strategies covering training measures in all areas as well as research in the areas of ICT in schools and in e-learning. There are central steering documents for most ICT learning objectives3 at both primary and secondary education, except for knowledge of computer hardware and electronics, developing programming skills and using social media, and using mobile devices only at secondary level. In primary and secondary schools ICT is taught as a general tool for other subjects/or as a tool for specific tasks in other subjects. At primary and secondary education level recommendations or suggestions and support are provided in the hardware areas of computers, projectors or beamers, DVDs, videos, TV, cameras, and mobile devices, with support only for smartboards, and virtual learning environments, but not for e-book readers. At primary and secondary education level recommendations or suggestions and support are provided in the software categories, multimedia applications, digital learning games and digital resources, and support only for office applications. According to official steering documents, teachers at primary and secondary level are expected to use ICT in all subjects and students are expected to use ICT in class, and also for complementary activities in language of instruction, natural sciences, and social sciences at secondary level, and for complementary activities only in the arts. There are no central recommendations on the use of ICT in student assessment. Public-private partnerships for promoting the use of ICT are encouraged.

National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) - now PDST

The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) is a Government agency in Ireland established to provide advice, support and information on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in education. It is hosted by Dublin City University at its campus in Glasnevin.

PDST Technology in Education promotes and supports the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in first and second level schools. It is part of the national support service, the Professional Development Service for Teachers, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills. The functions of the PDST Technology in Education were previously the responsibility of the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE). The NCTE was integrated into the PDST in June 2012.

The PDST is managed by the Dublin West Education Centre (DWEC).

The main functions of PDST Technology in Education (formerly NCTE) fall into two categories:

  • Providing a range of ICT-related support services to schools
  • Policy development, strategic and administrative functions

The offices are based in Dublin City University campus in Glasnevin.

Virtual initiatives in schools

Bridge21 is a joint venture of Trinity College Dublin and Suas Educational Development, and it is a virtual school initiative offering a new model of learning that can be adapted for use in Irish secondary schools.

iScoil (previously NotSchool Ireland) is a virtual school offering blended learning to students between the ages of 12 and 16 who have disengaged from the school system (school phobics, students suffering from depression and behavioural problems and students from disadvantaged backgrounds).

The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) was established under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills in 1998. The NCTE promotes and supports the integration of ICT in learning and teaching in first and second level schools. With effect from 1st June 2012, the role and functions of the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) come under the remit of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). This service is managed by Dublin West Education Centre (DWEC). The main functions of NCTE fall into two categories: providing a range of ICT-related support services to schools and policy development, strategic and administrative functions

OER initiatives in schools

Virtual initiatives in post-secondary education

OER initiatives in post-secondary education


ALISON is a for-profit social enterprise based in Galway, Ireland. Their starting point is basic skills for the workplace, and for that they provide a range of high-quality courses. Since its launch in April 2007, ALISON has developed relationships with some of the largest and most prestigious institutions involved in promoting education and learning.

Coursera, edX

None of these initiatives have a member university in Ireland.


Trinity College Dublin is a new member of Futurelearn.

Other MOOCs

Hibernia College have started a MOOC.

IT Sligo has announced that it is to become Ireland’s first public higher education institution to offer a MOOC.

Lessons learnt

General lessons

Notable practices

The two Irish institutions most likely to be in the Major e-learning iniatives category (MELI) were:

  • OSCAIL (NDEC), the Irish National Distance Education Centre, based at Dublin City University (DCU - see Established in 1982 with a brief to provide access to higher education to adults throughout Ireland, in cooperation with universities and other institutes. Oscail provides undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in information technology, humanities, business and nursing. The Higher Education Authority (HEA)provided ring fenced funding for Oscail from 1984, however the HEA decided to cease funding Oscail from the 2009 academic year, on the grounds that:
'The funding relationship with the HEA has not helped Oscail adapt its provision to the new market; and it sits uneasily within a higher education sector where competition has become the norm and where advances in technology and pedagogy have allowed distance education to merge into the mainstream. In these circumstances, continued maintenance of ring-fenced funding to Oscail on the current basis is no longer viable' (Hyland and Mann Report 2007 unpublished).

Following this decision, DCU has initiated an elearning strategy development process aimed at consolidating the work of Oscail and mainstreaming elearning throughout the university. See staff consultation document 'an Elearning Strategy for DCU' launched in October 2008 and associated blog at The report details the external drivers for elearning, reviews the provision of elearning in Ireland, and analyses the potential within DCU for increasing its provision of elearning programmes (including report on consultations with key staff and a survey of factors motivating staff to adopt elearning).

It is not regarded as likely that there are any other providers in the MELI category but there may just possibly be some more NELI institutions. However, Irish universities are still rather traditional and there is as yet no e-learning policy from HEA or funding for it.

Other areas to look at:

Atlantic Universities Alliance a consortium of University College Cork, University of Limerick, NUI Galway which is delivering distance education undergraduate and masters programmes in technology and sciences.

Institutes of Technology Ireland - This consortium has received euro€8.5 from the HEA's Strategic Initiative Fund (SIF) to develop a system of lifelong learning, using flexible (elearning programmes). This group aims to have 102,000 course enrolments, 750 staff trained, & fee income of €23.8m by 2012.

The Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance (DRHEA) led by DCU received funding under the same programme (SIF) part of which was to support 'enhancement of learning' including elearning.


There is an intriguing reference to a course on benchmarking e-learning standards at University College Dublin.


  1. The Internet Levels the Educational Playing Pitch, July 2000 - see
  2. HEA 2000 Report on Symposium on Open and Distance Learning 29-30 March 2000 Available at:
  3. 2008a HEA Policy Study on Open Distance Learning: Public Consultation – Invitation for Submissions Available at:
  4. Keogh, Kay and Orbanova, Iveta (2002) Increasing Third Level Provision for Mature Students in Ireland: A Market Analysis of the Demand for Open and Distance Learning. Report commissioned by Higher Education Authority.
  5. OECD 2004 Reviews of National Policies for Education: Review of Higher Education in Ireland Examiners' Report. Available at:,3343,en_21571361_39572393_37843778_1_1_1_1,00.html
  6. Skilbeck, Malcolm 2001 The university challenged: a review of international trends and issues with particular reference to Ireland. Dublin: HEA
  7. HEA Policy Study on Open and Distance Learning
  8. Eurydice National system overview on education systems in Europe, December 2011
  9. Eurybase, The Information Database on Education Systems in Europe: The Education System in Ireland, 2009/10

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