The Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and the London School of Economics, Peter Sutherland, has called for major reform of the higher education system to ensure it serves Ireland's needs in the decades ahead.

Speaking at a third level awards ceremony in Dublin, Mr Sutherland said employment policies needed to be reformed to enable universities to differentially reward their best performers.

He said they also needed to incentivise those who are willing to take on academic leadership positions.

Mr Sutherland said he did not believe Ireland could afford to keep seven universities at world class research, education and training levels.