The outgoing CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Dr Graham Love has outlined some of the reasons for his unexpected resignation from the body in August after 18 months in the role.

He was speaking as both the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority appeared before the Public Accounts Committee this afternoon.

Dr Love told committee members that the key attraction to the job in March 2016 was the strategic development role in the sector, but that he found it difficult to deliver on this.

He said that there were several reasons for this: "a lack of role clarity between the agency and the department; the difficulties posed by the lack of resolution to the funding crisis; the nature of the executive board relationship; and the dominance of the compliance and regulatory agenda".

Dr Love acknowledged to Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane that there had been times when he and the Department of Education disagreed over aspects of the remit of the HEA and that had been difficult.

The Secretary General of the Department Seán Ó Foghlú, acknowledged the concerns around clarity of roles.

However, he said he felt there had been significant strategic development in the sector, particularly during Dr Love's time in office.

Answering questions on a yet to be published review of the sale of a spinout firm in WIT, Dr Love said the HEA had pushed their "legal powers to the very limit, and frankly they haven't been able to go far enough".

He also said the remit of the HEA had evolved to take on a significant regulatory oversight role since the publication of the Hunt Report in 2011, but that the legislation underpinning it has not kept pace.

Dr Love added that there are now 250,000 third level students, compared to 25,000 when the HEA was set up in 1971, and that the sector had done a "fantastic job" in producing 45,000 graduates a year given the funding constraints.

He previously held senior roles in Science Foundation Ireland and was a former head of the Health Research Board.

The chief executive of the State's education and training body Solas, Mr Paul O'Toole, is due to take over as interim Chief Executive.