The inaugural Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) Research Conference took place on Tuesday, 15 November. HECA was established in 1991 and is the representative body of Ireland’s independent higher education institutions (HEIs). All 12 members provide QQI-validated programmes across a diverse range of disciplines, between Levels 6 and 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). There are over 27,000 students within the HECA network of college providers. Hibernia College CEO David Carpenter currently serves as Chair of HECA.
HECA Research Conference 2022
The collaborative research conference, Developing an open research landscape in private higher education colleges, was held at member college Griffith College. The research activity of faculty, academic managers, academic support staff and students was showcased, and topics spanned the areas of early learning, schools and tertiary education, supporting students with disabilities, library and open access research initiatives, technology and innovation, and humanities.
Drawing from the success of the 2021 HECA Student Research Awards, the conference was spearheaded by the HECA Research Committee in collaboration with the HECA Library Group. The conference underscored the value of the research coming from HEIs and its potential to contribute to wider research within Ireland and abroad.
The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris was also in attendance on Tuesday.
Hibernia College Research
The research shared by Hibernia College experts was focused on the experiences of primary teachers in integrating digital technologies into teaching and learning as well as best practices in supporting postgraduate distance learners in their research activities. HECA Research Conference presenters representing Hibernia College included our Digital Librarian Ann Byrne, School of Education Lecturer and Researcher Dr John Meegan and Irene O’Dowd, Researcher in our Digital Learning Department.
Dr John Meegan’s presentation was titled, Integrating 21st-century skills into Irish primary schools: a pilot study on the outcomes, experiences and observations of teachers. Irene O’Dowd and Ann Byrne’s presentation was titled, Developing a student-centred approach to academic referencing support for postgraduate distance learners. Ann Byrne also presented on institutional repositories with the HECA Library Group.
We congratulate the recipients of the 2022 HECA Student Research Awards. Hibernia College student Nigel Fitzharris earned a special mention for his research poster titled, Overcoming barriers to outdoor science education in Ireland.
We are delighted by the success of the 2022 HECA Research Conference, and we look forward to continuing to develop research within and beyond Ireland’s independent higher education sector.