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


Higher education, in Ireland and globally, is undergoing profound change influenced by a variety of factors. In conjunction with these changes many initiatives to improve teaching and learning and the quality of graduates in higher education have been introduced in recent years. The changes and expansions in the sector has enabled growth of new roles in higher education described as ‘third space’ professionals by Whitchurch (2008).

This paper describes the struggle of those in third space professions, such as academic development, to establish a professional identity in higher education. The benefits of these contemporary roles to higher education are discussed, while the circumstantial challenges presented to third space professionals in building collaborative relationships between academics and administration both internally and externally to the institution are acknowledged.

Finally the professional futures of academic developers are considered. This paper urges investigation into professional values of academic developers and the key strategies that might develop and sustain a community of academic developer professionals in Ireland. Also these approaches must acknowledge the dynamic and complex nature of higher education and academic development in order to survive into the future.