First ever meeting between Universities Ireland and Universities UK

British and Irish universities should work together on research, leadership and Europe, say University presidents

Universities UK and Universities Ireland, the new body representing the nine universities on the island of Ireland, should work together on
joint research projects, leadership training and common approaches to European issues, leaders of the two organisations said after their
first ever meeting in Dublin today.

Universities UK President Professor Ivor Crewe and Universities Ireland Chairman Professor Gerry McKenna agreed that the two bodies would open discussions to facilitate the participation of all Irish universities, including those in the Republic, in the UK’s Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

The Leadership Foundation was launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Gordon Brown, in March to offer “world class development in
leadership, governance and management to current and future leaders within higher education institutions,” Professor Drummond Bone, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, told the Dublin meeting. Irish university presidents, including Dr Hugh Brady, President of University College Dublin, expressed a strong interest in participating in its activities.

The meeting agreed that Universities UK and Universities Ireland should explore the possibility of joint research projects, with joint applications to the British and Irish governments for funding, as part of the ‘east-west’ dimension of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

The two bodies also agreed that they should work to develop common approaches on European issues where there were already significant areas of agreement, particularly in relation to the Bologna process and research issues.

Professor Crewe, who is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, said that in the past there had been “an extraordinary lack of contact and collaboration” between British universities and universities on the island of Ireland. However given the wide areas of common interest which had become apparent at this first meeting, it was important that close collaborative relationships should be built in the future.

Professor McKenna, who is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster, said that all the political parties in Northern
Ireland would support  closer links between Universities UK and Universities Ireland, and co-operation between British and Irish universities on an east-west basis was “entirely sensible and right and has great potential and mutual benefits for the future.”

Universities UK is the representative body for over 120 universities in the United Kingdom. Universities Ireland was set up last year by the
presidents of the nine universities on the island of Ireland to work on joint research, conference and promotional projects. It was agreed
that from now on there would be annual meetings between the two organisations.

Also present at today’s meeting were Professor John Hegarty, Pro vost of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, President
of Dublin City University, Professor John Hughes, President of National University of Ireland Maynooth, Dr Iognáid O Muircheartaigh, President
of National University of Ireland Galway, Dr Chris Gibson, Pro-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Robert Boucher, Vice-Chancellor of University of Sheffield, Professor Patrick Dowling, Vice-Chancellor of University of Surrey, Dr Geoffrey Copland, Vice-Chancellor, University of Westminster and Baroness Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK.

See the Agenda and Briefing Paper pdf icon (522Kb)