Northern Ireland news

Universities across Ireland in all-island collaboration post-Brexit

Presidents and vice-chancellors of 10 universities in the north and Republic met at Queen's

IRISH universities have confirmed their commitment to collaborating on an all-island basis post-Brexit.

The heads of 10 institutions north and south met at Queen's University Belfast where they agreed to work together across a broad range of research and education initiatives.

This includes proposals for a new All-Island Doctoral Training Partnership - Innovation Lab Ireland.

The partnership will bring together universities, industry, community and policy-makers across Ireland to support innovation training and practice for postgraduates.

Universities will also take forward collaborations around key research themes in partnership with the CBI, IBEC, NI Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.

A particular focus for some of these will be on the opportunities emerging from the Belfast region city deal and the renewed emphasis on developing the Belfast to Dublin corridor.

Queen's Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian Greer, said there was "enormous appetite and potential for universities and industry partners to work together to support the innovation and skills agenda, regardless of the outcome of Brexit".

"An all-island approach provides a unique opportunity to create a real power-house of innovation in Ireland." he said.

Professor Paddy Nixon, Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, said the magnitude of change and disruption that higher education, industry and wider society faced was unprecedented.

"These challenges create a tremendous opportunity for institutions and leaders to find new ways of delivering value to our students and to the economy. Working collaboratively, we will create an all-island ecosystem that will lead to new ways of working, the development of new technologies and ultimately economic opportunity for all," he added.

Angela McGowan, Director of CBI Northern Ireland, said the business community recognised that universities were at the heart of all successful economies.

"We are delighted to support this new and exciting approach to all-island university collaboration," she said.

"Over the last two decades the CBI along with our sister organisation Ibec in the Republic of Ireland, have witnessed the enormous benefits of all-island co-operation for trade and commerce. However, we also appreciate that there is further to go before the all-island economy reaches its true potential.

“The CBI expects that this new higher education initiative will add great momentum to delivering that economic prize for both economies by raising our profile on the world stage in key research areas, attracting more investment into the island and creating more jobs for our young people."

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