Document Type

Conference Paper


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



Publication Details

Paper presented at the Higher Education in Transformation Conference, Dublin, 31st. May - 1st. April, 2015.


That universities—existing and to-be-invented—will by necessity be more entrepreneurial in the future is enshrined in higher education policy in Ireland and, indeed, has been seemingly uncritically accepted by higher education institutions, old and new. Commercializing research output, nurturing spin-out commercial activity, embracing on-campus private, commercial companies, forming entrepreneurial graduates with entrepreneurial training embedded in the curriculum—all these strategies are encouraged, if not required, of a new higher education culture that promises, in adopting these strategies, a pathway towards "economic renewal". An industry- and business-led vision of the future of higher education sits uneasily with faculty in Humanities, however, where a linear correlation between the curriculum, research activity and commercial, economic benefit is not always easy to see, if it exists at all. Moreover, the principles on which the entrepreneurial university is build sit uneasily with the conception of the university favoured by Humanities: clearly a utilitarian conception of education finds little space for art, poetry, history, metaphysics and other disciplines that perhaps until recently have not needed to justify their existence within the academy nor the expenditure of resources in their support. This paper will seek to critique current higher education policy from the Humanities perspective (thus resisting, to a degree, the notion of the entrepreneurial university), and will offer some ways of thinking about transformed universities that are informed by principles other than those promoted by policy. The paper will examine some of the consequences for the configuration of higher education in Ireland into the future if these alternative principles are embraced. These reflections emerge from Waterford Institute of Technology's efforts to create a Technological University in the South-east of Ireland and some consideration will be made of the experience to date of seeking to invent a new kind of higher education body in the light of higher education policy.