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North West’s education institutions to present united front in US

10 November 2017

The North West’s third level education institutions will aim to further develop their strong cultural and economic ties with the North East of America when they visit Philadelphia and Boston from Monday November 13th to Friday November 17th.

They are travelling as part of the Ireland North West Trade and Investment Mission, a collaboration between Donegal County Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council and Údarás Na Gaeltachta.

Representatives from the University of Ulster, Letterkenny IT and the North West Regional College will join civic leaders, officials and 15 local companies for the trip where they will showcase the region as an attractive proposition for inward investment and provide the local businesses access to potential export opportunity.

As well as highlighting the North West’s highly educated and skilled population, the colleges will meet with a number of institutions to discuss workforce development and apprenticeship programme partnerships “We are committed to working with our local partners to promote the North West region as an attractive investment proposition for global companies, noted Dr Malachy O’Neill, Provost at the University of Ulster. “Our academic excellence and top-class learning environments are core to that proposition.

“Through this trade mission we hope to build on our existing educational and industrial links in the Boston area and develop new alliances with partners throughout the US.

“Ulster University is developing a formal strategic alliance with the North West Regional College and Letterkenny Institute of Technology. This connected approach will enrich the academic provision in the North West by enabling us to maximise our collective strengths and build on our academic excellence which seeks to integrate employability with teaching and learning.

“A key aspect of this mission will be the opportunity to outline Ulster University's innovative plans for a Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS), to key figures in the US,” he added. 

“Our proposal aims to provide broader access to medical training and address the skills and workforce challenges faced by the health care sector, mainly in the North West, but also across Northern Ireland as a whole.

Head of Development at Letterkenny IT, John Andy Bonar, noted that presenting a united front with their education and industry partners in the North West added extra weight to their long standing connections in the US.

“Letterkenny IT has been involved in these trips with Donegal County Council for a number of years,” he said. “The expansion of the group to include partners in the North West city region has been welcome and subsequently the inclusion of our education and industry partners has made this a more significant and powerful engagement.

“It is important that the Institutions act as one, this presents a comprehensive education offering from apprenticeship to PhD level.

“Our College has benefitted from the continued strengthening of engagement with higher education partners in the US and this has resulted in reciprocal visits to Donegal which has included staff engagement and student exchange with institutions such as Worcester State University, Becker College, UMASS Lowell and Lasell college.

“We have also hosted the successful Sport Changes Lives initiative where three Victory Scholars basketball players have been enrolled in our college this year.

The North West Regional College took part in the trip for the first time last year and their CEO Leo Murphy is looking forward to all three colleges building on the connections they made in 2016.

“Last year was a fact finding mission for NWRC and we are looking forward to building on discussions with Worcester State University, Becker College, UMASS Lowell and Olin Engineering College, a project based learning engineering college in New England,” he explained.

“The cohesion that comes from working with Ulster University and LYIT is demonstrated by the strong engagement with North America Partners.  NWRC is particularly interested in developing links with the community college sector both in Boston and Philadelphia.

“It is important that the Institutions act as one, in reflecting the developments of the North West city region. This presents a comprehensive education offering from apprenticeship to PhD in the North West region.”

The North West delegation will take part in several networking events during their trip including an Ireland North West Showcase event, an Invest NI Breakfast event and the climactic Golden Bridges conference at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Centre.

The intensive itinerary includes meetings with both the Mayors of Philadelphia and Boston and their respective economic development teams and meetings with Chambers of Commerce from across the North East of the United States