Ireland launches new fund for international university partnerships
The Irish government has introduced a new fund designed to spur a fresh round of collaboration between Irish higher education providers and institutions abroad. Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, and Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, jointly announced a new “International Academic Mobility Programme” on 2 October. The programme will provide €500,000 (US$590,000) in new grants in support of “collaborative activity between Irish universities and global institutions in high potential markets.”
The new fund is the latest step in the implementation of the international education strategy – Irish Education Globally Connected: An International Education Strategy for Ireland, 2016-2020 – that Ireland announced almost exactly a year ago.
The programme is open to public, private, and not-for-profit higher education providers in Ireland, and to teaching, technical, management and administrative personnel at eligible institutions. Along with the country’s seven universities and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, this will include any institutions with degree-awarding authority from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) as well as any Institutes of Technology with “delegated authority or full statutory authority to make awards.”
The fund is explicitly intended to fund travel and staff time that will lead to collaborative activity with partner-institutions abroad. The programme guidelines anticipate that activities will focus on the following.
- Joint programmes
- Collaborations around curricula development, including internationalisation of curriculum, or online delivery
- Student exchange programmes
- Scholarly collaborations, including joint research activity
“Working closely with international institutions is key to the success of our higher education sector, especially in light of Brexit, and the other global challenges and uncertainties we face,” said Minister Bruton. “This programme will be in addition to supports already available under the Erasmus+ initiative that facilitate, for example, student exchange and partnerships between higher education institutions.”
The new fund will be administered by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority (HEA). The HEA has already issued a call for proposals for funding under the new programme. Proposals are due by 3 November for projects to be carried out between December 2017 and December 2018.
Clear lines to policy and strategy
The International Academic Mobility Programme reflects the broad scope of the Irish Education Globally Connected strategy, which sets out in part that “Internationalisation of education can be described as a comprehensive approach to education that prepares students, academics and staff to be active and engaged participants in an interconnected global world.”
“This is the latest in a number of actions…to implement the strategic vision set out in the Government’s International Education Strategy,” added Minister O’Connor. “It follows on from the implementation of a trebling of the number of Government of Ireland Scholarships for international students, the introduction of a 24-month stayback permission scheme for post-graduate international students, and the provision of greater supports by Government to assist with the diversification of international education markets.”
Funding and activities under the Irish Education Globally Connected strategy are focused on core international targets for Ireland, including the US, China, India, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Gulf Region. But the strategy also anticipates an expansion of activity to include a number of high potential markets outside of this core group, such as Canada, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Nigeria. Accordingly, it is expected that initiatives under the International Academic Mobility Programme will also focus on these high potential targets.