The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, T.D., attended a meeting today (Monday, 8th October 2018) to welcome Southern Regional College, Newry, as the first Northern Ireland partner to join the North East Further & Higher Education Alliance (NEFHEA).
Addressing the members, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “I commend the foresight of the CEO of SRC, Mr. Brian Doran, in joining the Alliance. I am confident that the joint expertise, supports, and synergy will enhance student learning, retention and progression across the region. What is so exciting about this venture, is the vision to retain skilled talent in the region, both North and South of the border, delivering job ready graduates for the local industries, for greater economic benefit across the region.”
The Minister noted that by collaborating on programme design and delivery, the Alliance was creating access and progression pathways for students in further and higher education institutions in North Leinster - South Ulster region.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said she was ambitious for this collaboration and added “further and higher education institutions have come together in an equal and respectful partnership, committed to their students – who after all are the most important people in this union. Students, no matter which side of the border they live on, will continue to reap the benefits of its work. I am delighted that that the border did not impact on this decision.”
Commenting on Brexit, the Minister reiterated the wish of the Irish Government to avoid a hard border. It is determined to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which has brought peace to the island of Ireland. The Minister stated “many of the students being served by the institutions within the NEFHEA have grown up in peaceful times and it is important to think what this means for them. It is imperative that we strive to strengthen our ties and support initiatives like this one here this morning which benefits our young students and the entire cross border community.”
Noting the collaboration between educational institutions on both sides of the border was now a common feature, the Minister expressed the hope that the discussions on the Common Travel Area are nearing conclusion and was confident that this will allow all institutions to plan for the continuation of these strong and valuable collaborations.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The North East Further & Higher Education Alliance (NEFHEA) is an important regional higher and further education partnership initiative comprising higher and further education institutions located in the North Leinster-South Ulster region.
Formed in 2007, NEFHEA is under-pinned by a Memorandum of Understanding. Members are committed to working together to promote access, transfer and progression between further and higher education in the region of North Leinster-South Ulster; and to collaborating on course design and development in response to regional needs and to sharing expertise and resources.
NEFHEA comprises representatives from across the North Leinster-South Ulster region (counties of Louth, Monaghan, Meath, Cavan, North Dublin). Current NEFHEA membership includes Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), Southern Regional College (SRC), Cavan Institute, Drogheda Institute of Further Education (DIFE), Dunboyne College of Further Education, Monaghan Institute of Further Education & Training (MIFET) and O'Fiaich College.