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Ulster University Derry~Londonderry hosts the Future North West Conference on Wednesday 29 May, a dynamic conference in collaboration between the Centre for Cross Border Studies and the North West Tertiary Education Cluster.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Centre for Cross Border Studies (CCBS), an independent charitable organisation based in Armagh, aims to empower citizens and building capacity across various sectors. The Centre promotes practical cooperation across the border on this island, contributing to the peace and reconciliation process. It also fosters cooperation between the island of Ireland, Great Britain, Europe and beyond to enhance mutual understanding, prosperity and wellbeing. Additionally, CCBS provides practical information and advice for those navigating crossing the border to live, work, study or retire – services in high demand post-Brexit.

The North West Tertiary Education Cluster (NWTEC) is a strategic alliance of the four publicly funded tertiary education providers in the North West City Region:  Atlantic Technological University (ATU), Ulster University (UU), North West Regional College, and Donegal Education and Training Board.  This deep partnership provides a comprehensive range of educational services including advanced skills training, innovative enterprise support, and internationally recognised research.

Hosting the Future North West Conference at Ulster University in Derry~Londonderry has been a privilege," said Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice Chancellor of Ulster University. "We are delighted that the conference secured the interest of ministers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, along with our friends from the North West Tertiary Education Cluster. Together, we are shaping the future of tertiary education on this island and prioritising the advancement of tertiary education in the North West. The collaborative spirit and shared vision evident here today has been very pleasing to witness."

The conference featured speeches by key figures in higher education from both jurisdictions, Mr Conor Murphy MLA, Economy Minister, and Mr Patrick O Donovan TD, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Speaking at the conference, Minister O’ Donovan said

" I am delighted to be here in Ulster University, this morning to speak at today’s conference. The North-West Tertiary Education Cluster (NWTEC) has evolved as a brand and a meaningful partnership focusing on supporting the development of this Region.  It has been to the forefront in promoting and highlighting education, advanced skills training, cutting-edge innovation, enterprise services and internationally recognised high-quality research in this region".

Hosted by former RTE Northern Editor Tommie Gorman, the event began with a thought-provoking discussion on integrated education and border issues. It then transitioned to a focus on driving economic development in the North West. The keynote address, delivered by Mr. Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec and former senior economist at both the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Central Bank of Ireland, set the tone for the day.

Engaging panel discussions brought together leading enterprise representatives and development agencies from both sides of the border. They explored the vast opportunities that strategic collaboration can unlock for the North West. The conference concluded with an inspiring session where leaders from the four NWTEC partners shared their vision and priorities for the future of tertiary education in the region.

Dr Orla Flynn President of the Atlantic Technological University stated:

"The conference was very stimulating, providing strong support for the North West Tertiary Education Cluster. Throughout the day we got many examples of tangible evidence of deep collaboration across the education partners, local government and the private sector.  The conference offered a real vision for a connected future in which the North West can be a beacon for transformative collaboration."

Donegal Education and Training Board Chief Executive, Anne McHugh, noted the importance of this collaborative work:

“One of our priorities is to play a leading role in forming local and regional partnerships that will improve educational, social and economic outcomes for Donegal. This collaboration with ATU, the North West Regional College and Ulster University, through the North West Tertiary Education Cluster, in terms of upskilling and reskilling, is strategically important for the future uplift of this cross border region.”

Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College welcomed the NWTEC conference today at Ulster University .

“It provided an excellent platform to showcase the innovation and skills work taking place across the four institutions to help build this city region”.