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1. HEA Facts Sheet

2. Biography of John Hennessy, Chairman

3.  Biography of Tom Boland, Chief Executive Officer  

4. HEA Logo (download)


The Higher Education Authority is the statutory planning and policy development body for higher education and research in Ireland.

Welcome to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) website. The role of the HEA is to create a higher education system that maximises opportunities and ensures a high quality experience for students. It is only by placing the student at the centre of all activity, that the HEA and the higher education system can deliver on its responsibilities to the individual, society and the economy. The HEA is the statutory funding authority for the universities, institutes of technology and a number of other designated institutions and is the advisory body to the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the higher education sector. 

The National Strategy on Higher Education states that its successful implementation will require strong central oversight and proposes a key role for the HEA in leading the higher education system in the achievement of higher levels of performance The HEA is the regulator of the higher education system and we are required to implement our funding responsibilities and a process of effectivestrategic engagement to ensure well-functioning, well-governed, accessible and accountable higher education institutions, operating to high standards in all areas.

The HEA advises the Minister for Education and Skills on the objectives to be set for the higher education system and performance indicators to be applied. It is the HEA’s responsibility to ensure that national objectives are aligned with institutional objectives, that performance is measured against these and funding allocations made accordingly. The HEA performs an advocacy role for higher education to students, Government, employers and the general public. We make the case for the contribution that higher education makes to personal development and to social, economic and cultural development and we promote higher education as part of an integrated education system that enables individuals to reach their full potential.The HEA has responsibilities to input into the national policy agenda through the provision of high quality, research and evidence based policy advice to the Department of Education and Skills and other agencies and Departments with significant interaction with the higher education system.

The HEA is accountable to the Minister for Education and Skills, through his Department, for the achievement of national outcomes for the higher education sector. Taken overall, the HEA
exercises a central oversight role in the higher education system and is the lead agency in the creation of a co-ordinated system of higher education institutions with clear and diverse roles appropriate to their strengths and national needs; it acts as a catalyst for change in the higher education system, requiring higher levels of performance while demonstrating an appropriate level of accountability,consistent with institutional autonomy and academic freedom.


Biography of John Hennessy, Chairman of the HEA

John Hennessy is Chairman of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) since 2011 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the Private Sector working in the Telecommunications industry.  On graduating from college in 1973, John joined the Swedish Multinational Telecommunications Company, Ericsson and has held a number of senior International positions and was appointed Managing Director of the Ericsson Ireland from 2003 until he became Chairman in 2010. John has been a member of various Government advisory boards through his involvement in the Irish Business and Employer Confederation (IBEC). John is also a board member of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), deputy Chairman and board member of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Chairman of the Chartered Directors Network, and board member of St James’s Hospital, Dublin. John holds an MSc and is Chartered Director.


Biography of Tom Boland, Chief Executive of the HEA

Tom Boland is Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) since January 2004.  The HEA is a statutory body established to allocate public funding to Irish higher education institutions; to oversee performance of the higher education and research sector generally and to advise the Minister for Education and Skills on the development of the sector.

He is a member of the Board of the Central Applications Office and the Governing Board of IMHE, the OECD higher education programme.  He is former Chairperson of the Board of HEAnet.  He has previously served on the boards of Science Foundation Ireland and the Fulbright Commission

He holds degrees in Civil Engineering and Law and was called to the Irish Bar in 1987.


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