Simon Harris has launched a stakeholder consultation on the reform of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) legislation. A report on this reform has also been published by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

The HEA is responsible for the funding and oversight of the higher education sector. It is established by the Higher Education Authority Act 1971. Now in place for 50 years, the decision has been made to alter the legislation. In announcing this new consultation, Harris highlighted the importance of “robust and refreshed legislation for the higher education sector” being put in place.

The new legislation will aim to put an emphasis on strong internal governance by the higher education institutions within a clear performance and governance framework with the HEA. Harris’ new legislation aims to enable the HEA to work more efficiently with Higher Education Institutions. This should allow the enactment of government policies and ensure the transparent handling of public funds. 

Harris also noted that demand for higher education has factored into this development: “As demand for higher education continues to grow, we need to ensure that the higher education system is managed efficiently and effectively to deliver on these goals.” He also stated, “We want a higher education system which is innovative and adaptive, advances equality, diversity and inclusion, strengthens engagement with society, and maximises the contribution of higher education to social, economic and cultural development.”

Harris has invited views on the consultation report, which should be submitted to by 5 March 2021.

Rosie Roberts Kuntz – Assistant News Editor