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DkIT symposium highlights opportunities for greater cross-border collaboration in Higher Education

DkIT symposium highlights opportunities for greater cross-border collaboration in Higher Education

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) organised a symposium aimed at opening dialogue on how Institutes of Further and Higher Education can work together to develop a blueprint for successful cross-border collaboration in the North Leinster South Ulster region.

The ‘DkIT Symposium: A Changing Cross Border Landscape for Further & Higher Education’ brought together more than 80 policy-makers, academics and industry representatives from North and South to discuss challenges and opportunities surrounding BREXIT and the implications it may have on Further and Higher Education network in the region.

In his opening address DkIT President, Michael Mulvey PhD said, “Our region is quite unique in that it spans two jurisdictions, it is cross border and the consequence of that can be a fractured approach to development.  The result can be that resources are not always maximised – and the opportunity to offer a wide range of opportunities and pathways for progression may be lost.”

Much of the symposium focussed on identifying ways in which organisations can work together for the benefit of communities and learners in the region, either through strategic alliances, engagement with industry, research collaboration or clearly defined progression pathways between further and higher education. In her address, Siona Cahill, President of Union of Students in Ireland called on stakeholders to protect the education choices of young people both North and South by ensuring that they are not inhibited by freedom of movement issues following BREXIT, either through physical borders or through implications on fees and admissions.

DkIT President, Michael Mulvey also addressed this when he spoke about the need to examine our region as one “Region of Learning”, adding, “An important part of “Regions of Learning “ is that people do not feel they have to leave to access the education of their choice.  A Region of Learning is one that enables people to stay in their communities, to grow and develop within them to enhance local innovation and creativity and to gain employment in their locality.  It does not involve endless commuting.”

As part of its discussions, the Symposium also examined plans and the vision for the region with particular emphasis on Project Ireland 2040 and the National Planning Framework. Anthony Abbott-King, Senior Planner in Louth County Council spoke about the North East in the context of the Dublin-Belfast economic corridor and opportunities to enhance regional connectivity particularly in an all-island context. As part of the region’s spatial strategy he emphasised the importance of “place-making” through social and economic outcomes and discussed how local government is prioritising the wellbeing of people as the regional population continues to grow.

Margaret Hearty, Director of Programmes & Business Services at InterTradeIreland reflected on the cross-border region in terms of enterprise, innovation and research. She spoke about the importance the Further and Higher Education sector in helping to drive successful collaborations between enterprise north and south, such as the Fusion Programme and the Co-Innovate programmes.

In his closing remarks, DkIT President, Michael Mulvey emphasised that education policy must enable maximum collaboration between Institutions of Learning. “In DkIT, we see our future as the Region’s future and everything that we do, must by necessity, be concerned with building the region, making it stronger, giving it greater definition and adding to a sense of place. Amid today’s changing landscape of education, collaboration with our partners in our region, on both sides of the border, is now more important than ever.”

The symposium included representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, Southern Regional College, University of Ulster, Cavan Institute, Monaghan Institute, LyIT, IT Sligo and the East Border Region.

Pictured above main: Keynote Speakers at the DkIT Symposium: A Changing Cross Border Landscape for Further & Higher Education (Left to Right: Jim Fitzpatrick, NI broadcaster & Symposium Chair; Siona Cahill, USI President; Professor Duncan Morrow, University of Ulster; Pamela Arthurs, Chief Executive, East Border Region; Anthony Abbott-King, Senior Planner, Louth County Council; Michael Mulvey, PhD, DkIT President; Margaret Hearty, Director of Programmes & Business Services, InterTradeIreland; Dr Jos van den Broek, Senior Researcher, Rathenau Institute Netherlands)