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Join the Debate on National Well-being

Professor Marie McHugh

The University of Ulster is taking part in a UK-wide initiative this week that is giving the general public, students and staff an opportunity to air their views on the things that matter most to them in life.

Its Ulster Business School is hosting two evening public sessions, at the Jordanstown campus on Wednesday (March 30) and the Magee campus on Thursday (March 31), as part of a UK wide consultation debate on national well-being, which is organised by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The sessions will follow a “Question Time” format, where a select panel, including experts from the University, answers questions from the audience.

Entitled “Measures of National Well-being in Northern Ireland”, each starts at 6.30pm and will be chaired by BBC Radio 4 ‘Open Country’ presenter Helen Mark.

Professor Marie McHugh, Dean of the Ulster Business School, said she was delighted the University had been given the opportunity to host the events.

“Access to relevant and accurate information is crucial in today’s dynamic business environment,” she commented.

“We welcome this opportunity to ensure that the views of Northern Ireland’s business and academic communities will be considered, as these important new national statistical series are developed.”

Results will be analysed, along with findings from over 100 similar events throughout Britain, to assess what is important in people’s lives.

To date, nearly 8,000 people across the UK have joined the debate, which aims to provide a fuller picture of ‘how society is doing’.

ONS wants to produce measures of our general well-being which go wider than traditional economic measures. These will then be formulated and distributed to all government and commercial organisations to use in their decision-making processes.

ONS believes that while understanding that the economic performance of a country is important, there is a need to look at the broader measures, including quality of life and environmental indicators.

Paul Allin, from the ONS, said: “I am delighted that the University of Ulster is hosting these debates at the campuses in Jordanstown and Magee and I locok forward very much to taking part and to hearing what people have to say.

 “The national well-being debate is for everyone across the UK and we want to encourage people to tell us what matters to them.

“The measures that are developed will be available for all government and commercial organisations to use in a way which helps them make decisions.

“These decisions will affect the UK and so it is important to make your voice heard. Get involved by visiting www.ons.gov.uk/well-being.”

The panel of experts attending both events in Jordanstown and Magee includes:

-        Mike Smyth, Head of the School of Economics, University of Ulster, and EuroStat Advisory Board member;

-       Professor Vani Borooah, University of Ulster economist and writer on aspects of happiness;

-       Professor Brendan Bunting,  Director of the Magee-based Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing

-       Rev John Bach, University of Ulster Anglican chaplain;

-       Paul Allin, Director of the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme;

-       Dr Kevin Sweeney, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency;

-       Professor Mike Tomlinson, QUB sociologist;

-       Professor Dorothy Watson, Economic and Social Research Institute (Dublin), sociologist.

To book a place at either Jordanstown or Magee please register at http://www.business.ulster.ac.uk/wellbeing

For more information contact either Derek Bond (d.bond@ulster.ac.uk) or David Hanna (da.hanna@ulster.ac.uk).