‘Quality’ in an Era of Austerity: Challenges for Irish Universities

  • Marie ClarkeEmail author


The impact of austerity on the Irish economy and Irish universities had a number of implications for policy development, quality assurance and professional accreditation. The onset of the ‘Great Recession’, impacted negatively on the employment opportunities of professionals and resulted in reduced salaries for new entrants to professions. Cuts in funding, resulted in successive governments seeking more accountability from universities. Within this narrative, universities have been assigned both a share of the blame for the ‘Great Recession’ in not producing the right skills, and more responsibility for driving skills and innovation to bring the economy out of recession. The restructuring efforts highlighted a more centralised approach than had previously been the case. Successive Irish governments during this period adopted a direct regulatory approach, employing considerable oversight through the introduction of performance funding and contracts. As this approach became more embedded university performance is now explicitly linked to other government policies especially in relation to skills development and employment needs. The insights emerging from Ireland during a period of austerity highlights the challenges posed for universities in relation to government policies, quality assurance, professional accreditation and workforce development. For countries that are seeking to reduce financial support for the higher education sector numerous lessons can be learned from the Irish context.


Higher education Quality Austerity Measurement Performance 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland

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