New HEA chief tells of ‘opportunities’ for colleges

Dr Graham Love says Ireland’s higher-education sector faces series of challenges

Dr Graham Love, new chief executive of the Higher Education Authority: “These are challenging times for higher education, but there are also exciting opportunities.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dr Graham Love, new chief executive of the Higher Education Authority: “These are challenging times for higher education, but there are also exciting opportunities.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The new chief executive of the Higher Education Authority has said there are “exciting opportunities” for universities and institutes of technology despite a series of challenges facing the sector.

Dr Graham Love, currently chief executive of the Health Research Board, an agency of the Department of Health, has previously worked in senior roles in Science Foundation Ireland.

“I’m delighted to be appointed as chief executive and I look forward to working with the executive team at the HEA, and with the members of the authority,” Dr Love said in a statement.

“These are challenging times for higher education, but there are also exciting opportunities. A quality higher education system plays a critical role in Ireland’s development, social and economic; it is an honour to be tasked with a leading role in shaping the future of that system.”

Dr Love’s roles in Science Foundation Ireland included head of strategy, director of policy and interim director-general.

Public sector

Prior to taking on leadership roles in the public sector, he worked with Accenture on a range of projects including IT system implementations, strategic reviews and transformational change.

Michael Horgan, chair of the Higher Education Authority, said the appointment came at a critical time given the challenges faced by Ireland’s higher education institutions.

“Dr Love has extensive experience in leading organisations and in supporting change,” Mr Horgan said.

“In his current role he has led important and highly regarded work on how best to support research, and how to make the most of research findings. I look forward to working with him over the coming years.”

His appointment follows the retirement of Tom Boland in August last year. Since then, Dr Anne Looney has been interim chief executive. Dr Love will take up his new post in March 2017.

Future funding

Dr Love takes over the authority at a time of growing debate over the future funding of higher education and concern over the quality of tuition.

A report released by the authority late last year warned that the quality of graduates from Irish third-level institutions was at risk following a sharp fall in public funding and rising students numbers over recent years.

Its annual performance report showed that universities and institutes of technology have expanded to accommodate an additional 15,000 students in the space of just three years.

However, staff-student ratios deteriorated significantly, rising from about 1:16 to 1:20, significantly above the average for developed countries.