Higher education chief resigns amid frustration over lack of autonomy

Sources claim some key proposed reforms have either been stymied or delayed

Dr Graham Love is to resign from his post as chief executive of the Higher Education Authority. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dr Graham Love is to resign from his post as chief executive of the Higher Education Authority. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


The chief executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has resigned from his post just over a year and half after being appointed.

The move follows growing frustration at senior levels over the extent of control and “micro-management” from the Department of Education

Dr Graham Love, who was appointed as chief executive in January 2017, informed staff on Tuesday that he was leaving the organisation.

There has been growing concern within the authority over what some see as the organisation’s lack of independence by the Department of Education, according to sources.

Some claim proposed reforms for the sector have either been stymied or delayed, while others say key reports or announcements have been “sat on”.

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Love said that he was resigning as chief of the authority “with regret”.

“The HEA makes a valuable contribution to higher education in Ireland, ” he said.

“In my brief tenure, I have endeavoured to make strategic development a core element of HEA activities. I wish the organisation every success in the future.”

Dr Love is expected to step down in October.

The authority has statutory responsibility at central government level for the effective governance and regulation of higher education institutions and the higher education system.

One source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there has been concern within the authority over the limited freedom given to the organisation.

“It’s a question of the relevance of the authority: does it have a proper role or power? There’s been too much control and a real lack of clarity over its role.”

Another said the department was controlling the authority at the same time as delaying any “difficult” decisions over a future funding model for higher education.

Dr Love is the latest in a number of senior figures to leave the organisation over recent months.

In a statement, the Department of Education thanked Dr Love for his contribution and pointed to reforms which are underway.

“Under his leadership and guidance, the HEA has overseen the implementation of significant reform measures in the higher education sector, including a new systems performance framework and the design and implementation of a new funding model for higher education,” a spokesman said, in a statement.

“This new model will provide a roadmap for transitioning towards a reformed universal funding model that is more transparent, consistent across higher education institutions and will provide a mechanism to drive future performance and reform.”

Michael Horgan, chairman of the authority, also thanked Dr Love for his significant contribution.

“Since joining the HEA, he has overseen the reorganisation of the internal management of the authority, the production of a new strategic plan and the recruitment of new staff to key positions within the authority,” he said.

“During his term, a new funding model has been developed, a new performance framework introduced and the redrafting of a new legislative foundation for the HEA begun.

“Dr Love has significantly contributed to the development of the higher education system in Ireland and we in the HEA are sad and disappointed that he is leaving, but we wish him every success in the future.

“As a board we will focus now on continuing the delivery of the HEA workplan, quickly securing an interim CEO and setting about recruiting a permanent replacement.”