All-island potential must be realised for higher education

24th March 2021 - Neale Richmond, TD

The all-island potential for higher education must be realised with the announcement of the new Dublin-Belfast economic corridor, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Speaking during Taoiseach’s Questions in the Dáil, Fine Gael TD and spokesperson on European Affairs, Neale Richmond, said: “Figures released to me by the Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; Simon Harris, confirm that 1,588 Northern Ireland-domiciled students attended Higher Education Institutions in the State, while 2,090 students from the State attended Northern Ireland Higher Education Institutions.

“While these figures should not be dismissed, they are a relatively small proportion of the overall figures when you consider there are 235,000 people enrolled in Higher Education Institutions in the State.

“It is also interesting to note that nearly 18,000 Northern Irish students choose to attend Higher Education Institutions in England, Scotland or Wales.

“Following Brexit, the Irish Government has rightly committed to covering the costs and procedures to ensure students in Northern Ireland continue to have access to the Erasmus Programme, while work continues apace on cross border apprenticeships.

“These efforts can and should serve as a basis to truly realise the all-island potential when it comes to Higher Education overall.

“The State should not only be encouraging Higher Education Institutions to seek to attract more students from the North but there is a huge opportunity for the Government in Dublin to work more closely with the Northern Irish Executive to market the entire island as a global leader when it comes to Higher Education.

“Closer cooperation between state agencies and Higher Education Institutions on an all-island basis is a no brainer; we have already seen the success of agencies like Tourism Ireland in this regard. There is huge scope to further pool resources and share facilities to attract academic talent, secure research funding and apply for other European programmes like Horizon Europe.

“The Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor is an exciting initiative that shows the huge potential for closer cooperation and on a sectoral basis, the all island potential must be realised for higher education,” Deputy Richmond concluded.

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