LYIT President makes a presentation on behalf of the Cross-border Cluster to the Joint Committee
LYIT President, Paul Hannigan, along with Professor Malachy O’Neill, Provost of Magee Campus, Ulster University, made the opening statement on behalf of the Cross-Border Cluster at the recent virtual meeting of the Joint Committee on Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Discussions included the development and promotion of the cross-border further education and higher education sectors including, in the context of LYIT, the development of technological university status.
The Cross-border FE HE Cluster comprises Ulster University (UU), Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), North West Regional College (NWRC), and Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB). The North West Strategic Growth Partnership (NWSGP), led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, was instrumental in the launch of this partnership in February 2018. NWSGP is a unique interjurisdictional structure, endorsed by both Governments through the North South Ministerial Council
Mr Hannigan was delighted to make the opening statement: “The agreement is the result of years of successful collaborative working amongst the four education sector providers – LYIT, UU, NWRC and ETB - with the aim of improving access to higher and further level education and training to students living and studying in the North West City region”.
“The project partners are committed to supporting activity which can enable delivery, in a value-adding context by enabling better planning and organisation of programmes, allowing for differentiated offerings, greater impact through pooling of effort and development of shared services, more explicit attention to student pathways and progression, and a coordinated approach to enterprise and other stakeholders at regional level,” Mr Hannigan outlined.
Mr Hannigan told the Oireachtas committee that while Brexit will have an impact on education in the region, there are huge opportunities for growth in the years ahead: “The coming years clearly offer many exciting opportunities for increased collaboration in tertiary education in the North West City Region with the significant City Deal projects for Derry and Strabane, commitment via the Irish Government for greater support for cross-border collaboration in higher education and research via the New Decade New Approach agreement, plans to develop the Ulster University Magee campus including the delivery of the School of Medicine (opening August 2021), and the planned €20 million extension at LYIT”.
Additionally the agreement supports work that contributes to facilitating cross-border student mobility, reducing the obstacles to student mobility between North and South, pursuing collaboration that is beneficial to the institutions involved and for students, and facilitating cross-border cooperation in teaching and learning, particularly where it is geographically advantageous.
“LYIT’s Strategic Plan 2019-2023 affirms that the Institute is motivated to seek out collaboration partners that can add value, extend our reach, or provide impetus to ongoing activity. The continuation of the Cross-border Cluster engagement is strategically important to LYIT and key to our pursuit of Technological University status through the Connacht-Ulster Alliance with our partners IT Sligo and GMIT. Our partners in the Cross-border Cluster share our understanding of the challenges that Brexit represents, and this Cluster offers opportunities for a better coordination of the FE and HE response to these challenges for the North West cross-border region,” continued Mr Hannigan.
“There has been significant ongoing alignment of this project and much has changed since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed in February 2018; at that point the real implications of Brexit had not been fully grasped and the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement including the Executive, the Assembly and the North South Ministerial Council were not operating as planned. The inclusion in the ‘Programme for Government – Our Shared Future’ of the establishment of a Shared Island Unit recently launched by An Taoiseach is also very welcome in progressing the work of the Cross-border Cluster”.
“The future impact of Brexit on the North West cross-border region, the most connected cross-border region on this island, has garnered significant national and international attention and has both shaped and given greater impetus to the activities of the Cross-border FE HE Cluster,” concluded the opening address.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the invitation to present at the meeting and the continued support of the senators, TDs, MLAs, and MPs for the work being pursued through the Cross-border FE HE Cluster,” said Mr Hannigan.
Click here to view the meeting of 19/11/20 of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.