In 2010 HERC became Ireland’s first university based research centre to focus explicitly on issues of higher education and lifelong learning. Located in the office of DCU’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Registrar, HERC grew out of the interdisciplinary research network LEARN (Learning Education and Academic Research Network).
In 2016, HERC became a formally affiliated Research Centre of DCU's newly established Institute of Education.
HERC's objectives reflect those of DCU’s Strategic Plan (PDF) which aims to address "real world problems" and to transform “lives and societies through education, research and innovation". In line with the international field, HERC conducts interdisciplinary research drawing on sociology, psychology, organizational theory, communications, policy studies and education (read more about HERC)