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Island of Ireland Symposium: Partnership for Student Success: Developing graduates for the 21st century

County / Region
Position on the Pathway
Excellence in practice
Fellowship Category
All Fellowship Categories
Event Type
Virtual Symposia
Teaching and Learning
Start Date
End Date
1 Day
Institution Type
Higher Education
Price From
Standard Rate £175


The aim of this symposium is to provide a forum for discussing how different forms of partnership within higher education contribute to student success and improved student outcomes. The symposium is specifically focused on higher education across the island of Ireland, taking into consideration the specific policy and regulatory contexts in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and to facilitate the sharing of best and innovative practice to enhance student success in all HE providers.

Partnerships can take many forms, but high quality, mutually beneficial, honest and open partnerships between HE providers and employers, tertiary education providers and students all contribute to a meaningful student experience and increased student engagement, which, in turn, enhances student success.

The symposium includes plenary sessions to discuss the wide variety of factors that influence student success and the role of partnerships in this, before examining partnership in more depth across three distinct strands. Firstly, we look at how partnership with employers supports the necessary upskilling of the current workforce to adapt to 21st century changes such as advances in technology and the impact of global crises on student success. We are particularly interested in examining how partnerships with industry can ensure success for those students who are part-time, mature first-time entrants, or those wishing to retrain and /or upskill. The symposium will consider why these strands of partnership with employers are critical to the success of these students. Secondly, we will consider how partnerships with tertiary education providers can support social mobility and ensure students succeed in their aspirations and achieve to the best of their abilities. This strand will focus on the ways in which higher education needs to adapt and how can we work with and learn from the tertiary sector to achieve this. Finally, and importantly, the symposium will look at partnerships with students and how the HE sector is working with students to inform course content, assessment methodologies, pedagogical practices and employability skills. We will explore how to enable the student voice on being a graduate of the 21st century to contribute meaningfully to all aspects of higher education for enhanced student success.

The symposium aims to provide an open and supportive environment within which to share and discuss contemporary practice and initiatives across the island of Ireland. It will provide an opportunity for delegates to learn from other institutions, to share what works and what didn’t work and build a stronger peer network for learning and teaching within the HE sectors in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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Key themes addressed by the symposium

  • Collaborating with employers in lifelong learning and workforce development

How is the HE sector responding to the contemporary upskilling challenges for students to help ensure the adaptability of the Irish workforce to technological and social change?

  • Collaboration across the tertiary education sector

How is the HE sector partnering with other tertiary providers to enhance social and economic mobility of students as future graduates of the 21st century?

  • Collaboration with students

How are we embedding the student voice across higher education to ensure we are providing them with meaningful opportunities to develop the 21st century competencies they and their employers want and need?

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Download Resource

Island of Ireland Symposium programme

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Keynote speakers

Professor Mark Brown -  Chair of Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), Dublin City University

Professor Mark Brown is Ireland’s first Chair of Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University. Mark is currently Treasurer of the European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN) and he is also an EDEN Fellow. He serves on the Supervisory Board of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and maintains strong Southern hemisphere connections through his role as Vice President of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA). In 2017, the Commonwealth of Learning recognised Mark as a world leader in digital education. In November 2019, only weeks before the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Professor Brown was Chair of the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning in Dublin. Find out more about Mark 

Session abstract

Together we are Stronger: Shaping the Future through Digitally Enabled Partnerships.

In this talk, Mark makes the case for the value of strategic partnerships and shares through several practical examples how they can help to enhance the student experience and contribute to better outcomes for learners. Partnerships can also help you to benchmark with other providers and innovate in ways that are not possible through your own efforts. However, a deep and sustainable partnership requires genuine commitment to open and ongoing dialogue and an understanding that there need to be clear benefits for all parties. This point will be illustrated through several examples relevant to teaching and learning initiatives—for better and worse. 


Professor Mark Brown
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