Trajectories HEI

An investigation of trajectories of technology higher education institutes.


The aim of this study is to provide an understanding of regionally based, technological higher education institutes and through an examination of such institutes internationally, at differing stages of economic development, to seek an understanding of the possible development models.

The Research Team

Dr. Perry Share Principal Researcher Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo. Dr. Richard Thorn Joint Researcher Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo. Ms. Eileen Teyssou Research Student Department of Business & Humanities, IT Sligo.


Much debate is currently taking place on the future of our higher education system. We see calls for our universities to become more responsive to changing profiles of the market, to become more responsive to the needs of industry and community, to adapt a business approach to education. We see also calls for institutes of technology to be upgraded to universities. Much has been written recently on role and meaning of universities in the 21st century. The question of education systems is to the fore, how do binary or unitary education system fit into rapidly changing environments, where are the boundaries?

Project Details

The development of higher education institutes involves a complex interplay of several variables -government, policy, EU policy, demographics, economic climate, cultural emphasis on education amongst others on the macro level and degree of institutional autonomy, institutional mission and ethos, life cycle stage, presence /absence of strategic planning, marketing, institutional culture etc on the micro level.

This study will examine the development from elite to mass education in a number of countries. This development has largely taken place from the 1970’s and in the case of Ireland was driven by industrial policy and the requirement for a technically qualified workforce. The arrival of the “information age” and latterly the “innovation age” has put the ball in the air and has necessitated a review of higher education. System boundaries have been blurred by a number of factors including academic drift, evident in the increasing provision of degree courses, albeit applied in nature, in the technological sector and a requirement for the universities to become more market responsive and dynamic. The Irish higher education sectors are headed on a collision course unless repositioning occurs.

Pollitt and Bouckaert (2000) cite the concept of trajectories in public sector reform. This provides a useful framework whereby the planning (strategic or incidental) of institutes can be plotted. The question of the alpha and the omega are the central to the current review of higher education. This research will examine whether an omega explicitly exists for technological institutes and whether development takes place by incremental tactical shifts toward an unspecified goal and therefore, to continue the analogy, utopia or whether institutes strategically plan their development toward specified targets. The environmental factors, driving forces, critical success factors implicit in development will be examined.

The question arises as to whether a binary system of higher education is untenable. Does the intersection of Government policy, in the broad sense including education, social, economic policy with sectoral or institutional life cycle development inevitably imply movement toward a unitary or diversified system of higher education? The research will examine the historical and current context of higher education internationally with specific reference Australian, Austrian, German and British systems and will present a typology of higher education institutes.