Two new members have been appointed to the Board of the Higher Education authority (HEA) by Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, including Trinity academic, Prof Ronan Lyons.

The other appointee is Dr Deirdre Lillis, Head of the School of Computing at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Lyons is an assistant professor in economics in Trinity.

The two appointees brings the Board of the HEA to 15 members including a chairperson. Evenly split between academic and non-academic members, Lillis and Lyons will be non-academic members of the Board, which directs and leads the HEA’s activities and promotes its success. It also monitors the HEA’s activity while providing it with strategic guidance.

In a press statement, Bruton said the new members had “valuable expertise and experience”, something he hoped “would be of benefit to the Board in ensuring that it can provide the necessary strategic direction to the HEA in the years ahead”.

Minister of State for Higher Education and Skills, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, also welcomed the new appointments saying in a press statement that this is “an important time for the HEA”. Calling the work of the HEA “important and significant”, Mitchell O’Connor referenced the impending decision on the future of higher education funding and the role the HEA will play.

The new appointments will mean that the gender balance of the board will be 47 per cent female and 53 per cent male. This is in line with the government’s commitment to achieving 40 per cent representation of each gender on all state boards.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is the statutory funding authority for the universities, institutes of technology and a number of other third-level institutions. As well as this it acts as an advisory body to the Department of Education, and is responsible for governance and regulation of higher education in Ireland.

The two new members were appointed after a public recruitment process was conducted by the Public Appointments Service with the Chair of the HEA, Dr Graham Love.