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CCBS Director speaks to Oireachtas Joint Committee on Higher Education

Posted On: 22 Feb 2023



On Tuesday 21 February, Dr Anthony Soares, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, took part in a roundtable discussion on North-South Student Enrolment in Tertiary Education held by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

Anthony began his opening statement to the Committee by posing a question as to whether there was a shared understanding of the significance of North-South student mobility and whether it should be supported or encouraged. Without a shared understanding arrived at by both Administrations on the island and by education providers and key stakeholders, it would be difficult to encourage and support increased student mobility, Anthony argued. He also noted that including further and higher education in the remit of the North-South Ministerial Council would show that both Administrations recognise the importance of student mobility on the island. He ended his opening statement by suggesting the scope of the discussion be broadened to include ‘short-term mobilities as part of a student’s course, cross-border apprenticeships and vocational courses and cross-border work placements’.  

During his contribution to the discussion, Anthony covered much ground that we hope will be of benefit to the Committee: 

  • Anthony highlighted the role of the Centre’s Border People project in providing important information to people living cross-border lives, including in the area of education. 
  • Investment in research programmes that allow postgraduate students to study in the other jurisdiction would be very welcome. 
  • The difference in the number of international postgraduate students between North and South highlights a difference in funding models for higher education institutions which has an impact on student mobility on the island. 
  • Anthony explained that institutions that are cooperating North-South need a supportive policy context to enable cooperation. This will allow them to ensure that North-South cooperation is not seen as an optional luxury but an important part of their work. 
  • Anthony pointed out that the recognition of professional qualifications is one of the issues raised by respondents to our Quarterly Surveys on maintaining the necessary conditions for North-South and East-West cooperation. Students who study in the other jurisdiction need to have confidence that professional qualifications that they earn as a result will be recognised in their home jurisdiction. 
  • Other issues raised by the Quarterly Surveys include cross-border transfer of data and cross-border insurance, both of which may affect higher education institutions. Whilst NI remains in the single market for goods, it does not for services. This has potential implications for HEIs. 
  • Anthony also stressed that Article 11 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland commits to maintaining the necessary conditions for continued North-South cooperation, explicitly naming education as one of the key areas. 

Anthony appeared alongside other invited guests including Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of Universities Ireland, to whom the Centre provides secretariat support. We were very grateful to the Joint Committee for their invitation to take part in the discussion and we will continue to share our expertise in this important area of cross-border cooperation.  

You can download the Official Report of the session, below. 


Read the Official ReportThe Centre for Cross Border Studies