BH Associates
Education Consultants

Mr Tom Boland

International adviser on higher education and research


Mr. Tom Boland is an international adviser and expert on education and research.

He has wide experience in leading complex, high performance organizations across a range of public service activities, with strong competence in strategy, organizational and system reform and stakeholder management.

Professional Experience

In August 2016, Mr. Boland stepped down as Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority of Ireland (HEA), ending over two decades at the most senior levels in the Irish education system. The HEA leads the strategic development of the Irish higher education system and has a statutory responsibility, at central government level, for the effective governance, regulation, funding and performance of all publicly funded higher education institutions.

As Chief Executive of the HEA for twelve years, Mr. Boland led a wide-ranging reform of the Irish higher education system involving institutional consolidation and the putting in place of a system of binding agreements with the higher education institutions, containing specific, measurable contributions to stated national objectives, combined with a model of funding contingent in part on performance against these agreements. He also led the development, and on-going review, of the structures and processes which underpin quality assurance in the Irish higher education institutions, including the putting in place of an international expert review of the Irish quality assurance processes in partnership with the European Universities Association.

Prior to his role in the HEA, Mr. Boland served as Director of Strategic Policy and legal adviser in the Department of Education and Skills (Ministry) and was a member of the senior management team at the Department. In this role he had responsibility for the direction of strategic policy development for the education sector.  Simultaneously, as head of legal services, as well as advising the Minister on legal issues, he led the Ministry’s team in the development of policy and its translation into the most comprehensive programme of education law reform since the Irish State’s foundation.  This body of law comprehended the organisation and management of primary and second level schools, curriculum development and assessment, school inspection, the provision of education services for children with disabilities, the establishment of a teaching council to regulate the teaching profession and comprehensive legislation for the governance and accountability of universities and institutes of technology and the quality assurance processes in higher education. (READ MORE)

As an education consultant since end 2016, among the projects he has been engaged in to date are the provision of advice to the Government of Cyprus on the development of a performance funding model for their publicly funded universities and as part of an IMF/EU Commission team conducting an expenditure review for the Government of Slovakia. Both projects were undertaken with the support of the Structural Reform Support Service of the EU Commission.   

Mr. Boland has been, and is currently, a member of a number of boards and Irish Government advisory/regulatory bodies. (READ MORE)

Mr. Boland holds degrees in Civil Engineering (National University of Ireland, Galway) and Law (the Honourable Society of King’s Inns) and was called to the Bar of Ireland (1989).