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I. Sheridan, D. Fallon, D. Goggin

Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
In 2006 the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in Ireland released a call for proposals under its Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). The OECD (2004) review of higher education in Ireland had made a compelling case for reform of third and fourth level education in Ireland. In the context of increasingly difficult economic circumstances the SIF became an important driver for investment and reform of higher education. One projects funded under the SIF was the Education in Employment project focused on ensuring that higher education can serve the learning needs of those in the workplace, in a partnership model which recognises the role of the workplace itself as a valuable and valid centre for learning. Following from the Education in Employment project and in consideration of a broader range of potential engagement with external enterprises the Roadmap for Employment Academic Partnerships (REAP) project was proposed to the HEA with the intention of developing a blueprint to support a broad range of different interactions between Higher Education Institutions and employers. In recognising the breadth of engagement possibilities the project consortium developed a partnership continuum which saw the possibility of academic – enterprise relationships ranging from one of mutual awareness to one of strategic partnership similar to the ‘Stairway Model to Strategic Partnership’ described by Baaken and Schröder (2008).

The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (Department of Education and Skills 2011) stressed the potential for higher education to play a pivotal role in enhancing Ireland’s economic competitiveness. It also stated that greater engagement with wider communities has the potential to enhance equality in access to education and social cohesion. While the ‘engagement’ part of a HEI mission, encompassing the full range of external interactions with enterprises, individuals and communities, is often presented as distinct from the first two missions of Teaching and Research, it is only really effective if it is closely interlinked with them. Vorley and Nelles (2008) describe this third mission as a ‘thread that has the capacity to weave together teaching and research, while assuming a more economic and societal focus’. Adapting the learning derived from the SIF-funded projects the CIT Extended Campus was developed as a novel and unique response to embedding engagement within the entire mission of a HE institution and acting to support and professionalise the interface for all engagement activities.

Cork Institute of Technology’s Extended Campus is a new facility designed to support the two-way interactions of individuals and organisations with the HEI (Higher Education Institution) for knowledge exchange, lifelong learning and responsive engagement. There is a wealth of world-class research, learning and facilities available within Higher Education Institutions but it is not always clear to companies, enterprises, individuals or communities how to access, interface, or contribute to this knowledge. The aim of the CIT Extended Campus is to support and give recognition to these contributions by facilitating and providing a platform for the sharing of knowledge in both directions and enhancing opportunities for engagement with private, public and not-for-profit organisations.