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RIA Awarded Funding under Shared Island Unit to Research Higher Education in the Northwest

The RIA is a recipient of funding under the Shared Island New Foundations Awards to conduct a scoping exercise on Higher Education in the Northwest.

The Shared Island Unit of the Department of Taoiseach has this week announced the Royal Irish Academy as one of eight recipients for funding under the Shared Island New Foundations Awards. The Shared Island Unit, in conjunction with the Irish Research Council, have created these awards to promote research relationships on an island-wide basis, as stated:

‘Shared Island New Foundations Awards require researchers to engage in research partnerships in any of the following ways: North/South on the island of Ireland, East/West between Ireland and Britain, or through an international collaboration relevant to the island of Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement peace process.’

The RIA has been awarded the funding to conduct a scoping exercise on Higher and Further Education policies and provision in the North-West of the island as a means to tackling regional inequalities in lieu of HE and FE and the educational migration that is occurring as a result of current policies. This study will incorporate best-practice models and expertise from both Scotland and Wales through our sister academies, Royal Society of Edinburgh in Scotland and through the Learned Society of Wales. The study will also be conducted in partnership with local stakeholders and those availing of HE and FE in the region at present. The John and Pat Hume Foundation in Derry/Londonderry will also convene the first of many roundtable discussions with HE Stakeholders and Providers.

Gerry McKenna MRIA, chair of RIA’s Higher Education Taskforce said,

‘We are delighted to be announced as a recipient of this funding. The RIA has had an established Higher Education Taskforce for over 2 years that has brought together island-wide expertise on the issues facing HE. This funding will enable us to build upon the research already conducted by the Taskforce and contribute further to the debate around Higher Education.

The Northwest has been identified as a priority area for addressing regional inequalities along the Border Corridor and the Atlantic Rim, indeed the area has proven itself to be ripe for collaboration over the past decade involving cooperation cooperation between local government institutions and local community networks.

This research will explore the current difficulties and opportunities to HE in this region while drawing on best-practice in other devolved nations in a place-sensitive and spatial research piece. The results of this research will be led by the voices of those disadvantaged by a lack of current HE provisions in this region on both sides of the border.’

Full details of the eight projects selected for the 2022 Shared Island New Foundations Awards can be found here on the IRC website.