Over the last decade, Northern Ireland has made significant steps in strengthening its higher education system. In parallel with an improving economic outlook and several signs of progress in the provision and delivery of public services (NISRA, 2021), several strategies have addressed the importance of higher education for the Northern Ireland economy, together with a commitment to investing in skills to foster economic development, accessibility and curriculum delivery (NISRA, 2021; OECD, 2020).
The combination of Brexit and the post-pandemic societal changes poses several challenges for Northern Ireland including international students’ mobility, access to European research funding, digitalisation of teaching and learning, and the importance of attracting and nurturing talent in an increasingly competitive and globalised labour market. International networks and joint ventures are more crucial than ever: the pandemic and its ensuing transformations have highlighted the need for continued, and accelerated, internationalisation.
In order to gain a deep understanding of Northern Ireland’s higher education sector, the overarching questions of this report are:
- How does higher education operate in the broader ecosystem of Northern Ireland and globally?
- What are its unique selling points?
To address these questions, this report explores three main themes: Northern Ireland on a global stage (Chapter 1); Higher education and research in Northern Ireland (Chapter 2); and Focus on Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University (Chapter 3).
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