The tie-up brings together two globally recognised institutions providing complementary industry and research expertise and unlocking a range of opportunities in learning, research and employability in football in Northern Ireland.
The long term partnership will see the two organisations collaborating on education, research and civic engagement projects.
At the heart of the partnership is the BSc Hons Football Coaching and Business Management degree delivered on a fast-track part-time basis at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Co-designed by Ulster University and the IFA, the programme offers a pathway for experienced coaches, current players and those aspiring to progress within the football industry.
The innovative degree allows students to combine theory and practice with the completion of professional UEFA coaching qualifications along with an undergraduate degree.
The course is delivered in four-day intensive blocks, covering everything from football policy planning and operations management to performance analysis and coaching science.
Embedded within the course are internships and work placements, giving students first-hand experience of the industry and access to some of Northern Ireland’s leading figures in football.
The partnership also supports the women’s performance academy for elite players based at the university, with players training on a full-time basis alongside their studies.
Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said:
“It is great that our partnership with Ulster University is continuing to grow. We have worked together for a long time and it has been a fruitful partnership. The degree course adds to that and other initiatives are in the pipeline.”
Professor Paddy Nixon, Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, said:
“Ulster University and the IFA both believe in the power of sport to help raise aspirations and transform lives. We are working together on research that will provide insight into the football industry and be used to inform future decisions at both national and international level.
“This partnership offers our university community the opportunity to engage in programmes which harness the potential of sport to address physical activity, mental health and wellbeing and inclusion issues in local communities – having an impact both on and off the pitch.”