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This publication is derived from the presentations and discussions at the Partnerships for Progress Conference on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and External Engagement organised by the Roadmap for Employment-Academic Partnership (REAP) project in Farmleigh House, 23 September 2010. The Conference aimed to explore the potential scope for external engagement activity and the motivation for partnership as well as how that activity can be supported and managed and how success can be measured and rewarded. The REAP project is funded through the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Strategic Innovation Fund Cycle 2. The Project is led by Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and includes Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology, Sligo, Institute of Technology Tallaght, National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork and Waterford Institute of Technology as partners. The project aims to develop a model and roadmap for partnership and engagement between HEIs and employers and enterprises. This partnership approach is seen as especially relevant in the context of a dynamically changing economic and demographic environment. The partnership concept is extended to include and value all forms of interaction including learning, research and development and to recognise that the various engagement activities can be interrelated and built upon. By exploring existing examples of good practice throughout the project consortium and identifying enablers and barriers, a toolkit will be developed to facilitate engagement across the spectrum of potential partnership activities. The impact will be twofold – both HEIs and enterprises will be encouraged to seek out opportunities to engage and to identify any barriers to engagement within their systems and processes. Through the REAP project it is intended that enterprises will view HEIs as key service providers and strategic partners. Some of the literature on partnership reports barriers in terms of perceived inaccessibility and inflexibility of the HEI in dealing with enterprise needs. However, the experience of successful partnerships, reviewed through the project, has provided ample evidence that these barriers can be overcome. The preliminary work of the REAP project consortium has led to a consideration of how HEIs organise themselves to support and develop their external relationships. This well-attended Conference and the provoking and varied contributions added significantly to the discourse and will inform the work of the project team as we continue towards our goals. On behalf of the project team I would like to express our sincere appreciation to Minister Seán Haughey TD, our keynote speakers, our panellists, session chairs and all of the attendees for their frank and valuable contributions. An event such as this is always the result of a team effort and a particular word of thanks must go to our partners in DIT who were responsible for much of the organisation of the day. We look forward with renewed enthusiasm to continuing the project work.
Roadmap for Employment-Academic Partnerships, 2010, in M, Linehan & I, Sheridan (eds), Partnerships For progress, Higher Education Institutions and External Engagement Conference Proceedings 2010 Farmleigh House, September 23rd 2010, CIT Press, Cork, Ireland.
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