The North West Strategic Growth Partnership, in partnership with the Higher and Further Education and Training Institutions of the North West City Region, has announced a new agreement in education, training and innovation for the North West City region with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between education sector providers on both sides of the border.

The MoU is the result of years of successful collaborative working amongst the education sector providers – the Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute for Technology (LYIT), North West Regional College (NWRC) and Donegal Education and Training Board (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 North West Strategic Growth Partnership is led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and supported by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and The Irish Government. 

The Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. was in attendance at today’s signing and endorsed this historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) saying, “Today’s announcement is a fantastic development for the North West region.

This new partnership will greatly enhance collaboration between the education and training providers in key areas such as research, innovation and education and training.

“Brexit will pose a significant challenge to our higher and further education institutions. Through our Action Plan for Education, which aims to make Ireland’s education system the best in Europe within a decade, we are preparing our education and training providers to respond to this challenge. Talent drives the success of any region and strong hubs will be the engine of regional development. Today’s partnership is a very welcome development, which will have a really significant impact on the North West region.”

An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Gerry McMonagle said the signing of the MoU was hugely significant for the region. He said: “The MoU builds on the excellent collaborative work previously undertaken between the partners to support regional growth through delivering on the higher and further education needs of the North West. It will allow the partners to work together as anchors of the economy of the region and contribute to the advancement of the North West City Region growth agenda that investments in higher and further education can achieve with added value for everyone.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Maolíosa McHugh said: “This is a significant event for education growth in our region and is in keeping with the objective set out by the North West Strategic Growth Partnership to promote cross cutting regional growth in the education sector. I am confident that the MoU will give the two governments the mechanism with which to engage with the education institutions to deliver on our shared further and higher educational ambitions and further enhance cross border co-operation.”

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice Chancellor of Ulster University said: “This landmark agreement demonstrates our shared vision to create a regional strategic alliance for the North West, that drives innovation and investment and delivers co-ordinated cross border third level education to the people of this region and beyond.  In practical terms, this consolidates the excellent collaboration that is already operating informally and embeds this partnership working model across our regional network.  Today’s agreement will allow for a more co-ordinated approach to student pathway and progression and marks a step change in our approach to delivery of quality education in the North West.”

Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology said the alignment of a cross border further and higher education cluster in the North West City region is essential if the region is to grow and develop its education offering and maximise the emerging potential for those who wish to live, work and invest in this region.

He said: “The signing of the MoU between the education providers in the region is very significant and is testament to the huge amount of positive work that has been done behind the scenes to really look at how we can develop education, research and innovation foundations for the North West region. This alliance will allow us to design and deliver new courses and programmes that will support economic and social development and improve efficiency through shared staffing and facilities on a range of programmes, teaching and research. Key to this alliance is the positive impact it will have on our students and the way it will open up new opportunities for them as well as encourage and facilitate wider participation in education programmes.”

Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College said the MoU will contribute greatly to the outcomes of the Further and Higher Education Strategy in the City and Region. “Anything that facilitates student mobility and participation in education is to be welcomed and this MoU will go a long way towards assisting us in facilitating further cross border co-operation in teaching, learning and innovation.”

Anne McHugh, Chief Executive of Donegal Education Training Board said she is confident this alliance will provide effective progression pathways for students and graduates to higher education. “This is great news for the education sector in the North West and a really positive collaboration between education providers on both sides of the border. The MoU will assist us in achieving many of the strategic goals set out in our Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-19 to ensure active inclusion, integrated planning and funding and quality provision.”

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