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As local universities and industry bodies jointly call for clarification on how Northern Ireland will be represented in the Article 50 negotiations, Ulster University is poised to host a landmark UK higher education conference in Belfast next week (3-5 April 2017).

The AHUA (Association of Heads of University Administration) 2017 Spring Conference is an annual event typically attended by around 100 Chief Operating Officers, university registrars and heads of administration from universities across the UK.

Hosted by Ulster University this year, delegates at the two-day event at Titanic Belfast will discuss a broad range of key issues and challenges currently facing the higher education sector, including the impact of Brexit and the triggering of Article 50.

A wide range of speeches and panel discussion sessions will cover topics from devolution and Brexit to economic considerations, supply chains and future higher education trends. They will be delivered by leading authorities and highly respected academics including: Professor Neil Gibson, Ulster University; Chris Hale, Universities UK; Lynn Scarff, Science Gallery, Dublin; Bec Davies, Aberystwyth University and Gerry Webber, Edinburgh Napier University.

Known for her globally respected research credentials in politics and devolution, keynote speaker, Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact at Ulster University will open the conference with a focus on universities and their role in civic society.

Professor Gormley-Heenan said:

“Ulster University is firmly placed at the heart of society. Our research impact and teaching excellence, combined with a sense of community makes us uniquely well placed to offer solutions to the key issues and challenges we face today, and into the future.

"Brexit is beyond doubt, one of the biggest challenges of a generation. The potential impact across the economy, society and our way of life cannot be underestimated but it is important that universities continue to demonstrate their value by stimulating debate in order to understand the decisions made, support a positive and fruitful way forward and, deliver real and effective solutions.”

Eamon Mullan, Ulster University Secretary added:

“The AHUA conference is a key date in the diary for the influencers and decision-makers in higher education across the UK. We look forward to hosting our colleagues from across the UK, not just to discuss common concerns and challenges but look at solutions and progressive ways in which we can work collectively and learn from each other as we support the delivery of sustainable, high quality, higher education."

The conference is being sponsored by a range of private sector organisations including: Pinsent Masons; Shakespeare Martineau; Unite Students; Mills & Reeve; Unitemps; Saxton Bampfylde; Eversheds Sutherland and Veale Wasbrough Visards.