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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Continuing professional development for academic staff working in higher education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.6Continuing professional development for academic staff working in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education  

CPD is provided by the staff development units within institutions during working hours; course providers may be internal or external to the institution. Participation in staff development is generally optional, although promoted through performance management and appraisal systems. The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 emphasises the importance of academic professional development (APD), particularly in teaching and learning, which will be advanced through the establishment of a National Academy for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

Organisational Aspects

Academic Staff may apply for sabbatical leave, defined as a form of leave with full or partial salary to undertake research or other appropriate study related to an individual’s academic or professional field.  Generally, sabbatical leave is granted to a member of staff to engage in activity which will enhance his or her research standing and in turn the institution’s standing or to pursue a course of study or some research on teaching or a teaching related matter.

The conditions and application process regarding sabbatical leave varies from institution to institution.

Incentives for Participation in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Activities

Ireland’s The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 emphasises the importance of Academic Professional Development (APD) for the enhancement of the quality of the student learning experience, stating that 'all higher education institutions must ensure that all teaching staff are both qualified and competent in teaching and learning, and should support ongoing development and improvement of their skills'.

Over the past decade there have been significant advances in teaching and learning provision in Irish higher education, supported principally through the HEA’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). The establishment of centres for educational development and academic practice, and of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in institutions have supported greater engagement with technology-enhanced learning and other innovative pedagogies, along with an expansion of the opportunities for APD.

In 2012 a National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education was established. The National Forum has a central focus on enhancing the quality of the learning experience for all students, be they full-time, part-time or flexible learners. It supports excellence in teaching and learning across all higher education institutions. The focus of the Forum is to provide a platform for the support of implementing the best practices in teaching and learning that are already underway in many of our institutions. The National Forum is made up of representatives from Higher Education Institutions, the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the Union of Students of Ireland (USI).

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