Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Restructuring Irish Higher Education through Collaboration and Merger . Forthcoming in Mergers and alliances in higher education: International practice and emerging opportunities. Springer, 2014.


Irish higher education has been undergoing significant change, provoked by the global financial crisis and its particular manifestation in Ireland. The demand for higher education is rising at the same time that public funding is declining. In response, mergers and strategic alliances, including regional clusters, of higher education institutions has become a key component of the strategy to better position Irish higher education for greater efficiency, enhanced quality, improved competitiveness and visibility, and clearer alignment with national policy objectives. This chapter traces these developments. It describes the socio-economic and policy context underpinning developments in Irish higher education since the 1970s, and traces the origin and evolution of collaboration initially incentivised by government funding (1996-2011) to the current phase (2011-) which envisages structural reform and system-wide change as part of top-down policy-steering. The conclusion discusses over-all changes to the higher education landscape, and the implications of a shift from a policy of laissez-faire to steering-from-the-centre.