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The Union of Students in Ireland and the Higher Education Authority Working Group has recommended that students are more involved in the decision making processes in higher education. USI said that for appropriate developments and progress to be made in higher education students should be involved in the decision-making process because it affects them more than anyone else. The HEA has published a report today of the Working Group on Student Engagement in Higher Education.


The Working Group was established by the HEA in 2014 to develop a set of principles to assist higher education institutions in enhancing student engagement.  It was chaired by Professor Tom Collins. Kevin Donoghue, USI President, and Annie Hoey, USI Vice President attended the launch.


“Student engagement plays a pivotal role in academic success.” Kevin Donoghue said. “It enables quality assurance, better retention rates, educational satisfaction and means needs of the students are represented to the government. When students are seen as partners, not consumers, it improves the staff/student relationships and progression in high level education.”


The report of the Working Group recommended that all higher education institutions complete a co-led (staff and student) evaluation of formal and informal student engagement practices and opportunities at every level.  Once the self-evaluations are complete, institutions and students should co-author a student engagement policy that places the principles included in the Working Group’s report at the heart of each institution.  The principles include: democracy, transparency, inclusivity and diversity, feedback, professionalism and collegiality.


“Achieving successful student engagement is not about enforcement and compliance.” Tom Boland, Chief Executive Officer of the HEA, said. “It’s about building up a meaningful culture and two-way communications.  Student participation in higher education governance in Ireland is a legal requirement, but representation on various governance bodies is not sufficient on its own.  Both formal and informal mechanisms, as well as parity of esteem between students and staff, are extremely important. The culture of engagement must incorporate all staff and students, and reflect the diversity of the student body, incorporating mature, part-time, distance learning and international students.”


Speakers the launch today (Thursday) included Professor Stuart Brand, Director of Learning Experience at Birmingham City University, and Marese Bermingham, Head of Strategic Student Engagement and Retention at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

The full report of the Working Group on Student Engagement, including the principles developed by the group, is available at:




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