Scholars call for pan-Irish higher education


Scholars said that strengthening cross-border cooperation in higher education will be the foundation of “peace and prosperity” in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A working group established by the pan-Irish academic group Royal Irish College called on the Irish government and the Northern Ireland administration to establish closer ties in research and education to overcome historic political and regional challenges, as well as Brexit and the coronavirus outbreak. Problems caused by the epidemic.

A series of reports proposed the development of an island-wide charter on equality, diversity and inclusion, combining existing goals and initiatives, such as the Republic’s consent framework to address sexual harassment and misconduct, and an advisory committee to set goals. Advise and monitor progress.

The college believes that this coordinated strategy will eliminate differences in relative attention to gender, religion, race, language, race, disability, and LGBTQ+ issues.

They also called for the establishment of an island-wide research and innovation advisory committee to provide independent policy advice and evaluation in two jurisdictions. This can help avoid duplication of “expensive resources and capital infrastructure” and allow universities to play to their strengths. Under such a system, institutions should announce their priorities and their research expertise centers “for clarity.”

According to the report, the advisory committee could also consider establishing an all-Ireland higher education and research field to promote greater student mobility, which shows that this can learn from the Nordic countries’ experience in establishing similar arrangements between EU and non-EU countries.

Another proposal is to set up a planning agency for the northwestern part of the island, which has historically been underfunded. This may involve the creation of a cross-border university originally proposed in 2020.

In addition to these cross-border measures, these documents also call on the two governments to increase investment in research and establish an institution to oversee higher education in Northern Ireland, because it is the only area in the UK that does not have such institutions.

In the past ten years, both regions of Ireland have faced a shortage of funds. In Northern Ireland, the fee is capped at 4,275 pounds (5,707 U.S. dollars), while in England it is 9,250 pounds (12,349 U.S. dollars).

Even before COIVID-19 hit the important income of international students and business income, the tuition-free Republic University faced a ten-year budget limit.

Gerry McKenna, Senior Associate Dean of the Royal Irish College and former Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University, said that the cross-border initiative has received very strong support in the submission of consultation to the college. He said that although some cross-border initiatives already exist, stronger commitments are needed.

“By its very nature, higher education and research do not really respect national borders. This is an international activity,” McKenna said. “In a relatively small island like Ireland, any false division that hinders cooperation and collaboration will damage both parts of the island, regardless of one’s political views. Universities are promoting social cohesion, promoting political tolerance, and supporting democratic institutions. This is not something we should take for granted. The higher education system that covers the entire island and all its regions is not only to promote prosperity, but also an important factor in promoting peace and stability.”

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