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As well as being the statutory funding authority for Irish universities, institutes of technology and other designated higher education institutions, the HEA is the statutory planning and policy-advisory body for higher education and research in Ireland, advising the Minister for Education and Skills and the Government of Ireland on the development of the sector. This role encompasses the development and implementation of policy across all aspects of the mission of higher education, the three main dimensions of which are teaching and learning, research, and engagement; and it therefore informs the broader national policy-agenda through the HEA’s interactions with a range of Government departments and State agencies. The HEA aims to provide high-quality, evidence-based policy advice, while also performing an advocacy role on behalf of the higher education sector. The HEA’s vision for the future of Irish higher education is set out in the organisation’s Strategic Plan 2012–2016, which provides a roadmap for the implementation of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030.
With a central oversight role, it is the HEA’s responsibility to ensure the alignment of institutional strategies and national priorities within a coherent and coordinated system of diverse higher education institutions with distinct missions. These national priorities focus on economic renewal, social cohesion, public sector reform, and the enhancement of Ireland’s international reputation. This endeavour is being realised through the structural reconfiguration of the sector that is underway, and is supported by the Higher Education System Performance Framework 2014–2016. Through our on-going strategic dialogue with all publicly funded higher education institutions, the HEA will ensure that institutional strategies support the strong performance of our higher education system as the bedrock for social and economic renewal while safeguarding institutional autonomy and academic freedom.
Within the HEA, policy and strategic planning is advanced through Standing Committees of the HEA Board for Policy and Planning, Governance and Performance Management, and Research and Graduate Education.

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