Belfast Telegraph

Minister meets with new acting President and Vice Chancellor of Queen’s

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Employment and Learning

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today met with Professor James McElnay, the new acting President and Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to have this opportunity to welcome Professor McElnay into his new post, congratulate him on his appointment and discuss various issues in higher education.

“My Department is keen to ensure that more students undertake higher education courses in an economically relevant subject which will ultimately benefit the economy. A specific project within the higher education strategy “Graduating to Success” reflects this goal, and one of the outcomes of the project commits universities to bring forward proposals for rebalancing the profile of their courses, so that the qualifications offered more closely reflect the needs of the economy.

“I look forward to Queen’s commitment on this issue and to finding out more about what the University is doing to reprofile its existing provision, as well as any new courses which are being established in response to the additional places in STEM which have been made available by the Department. My Department has enabled the provision of an additional 1,350 places for learners undertaking an economically relevant STEM course by 2015, an increase of 11.9% over the 2011/12 baseline. The ‘Graduating to Success’ target of 700 additional places by 2015 has therefore already been met and indeed, exceeded.

“I am committed to the continuing expansion of higher education to give Northern Ireland the skills profile required to compete globally. One of the strategic goals of my Department’s Skills Strategy, ‘Success Through Skills - Transforming Futures,’ is to increase the proportion of those leaving from our Higher Education Institutions with graduate and post graduate level qualifications in STEM subjects.”

“With more than 17,000 students, 3,500 staff and as a member of the Russell Group, providing world-class education underpinned by world-class research, Queen’s University is a dynamic and diverse institution. It is also a global player in a range of areas including cancer studies, sustainability and pharmaceuticals.

“Higher education is a major driver of economic development and I believe this role will increase as further changes in technology, globalisation, and demographics occur. Higher education must focus on the importance of the economy, upskilling and reskilling the current and future workforce, enhancing research and development activity, increasing knowledge transfer and extending its reach locally, nationally and internationally.

“I am also committed to delivering a future vision of the higher education sector in Northern Ireland in which the people who are most able but least likely to participate, are given every encouragement and support to achieve the necessary qualifications to gain entry to, and to benefit from, higher education.

Professor James McElnay, Acting President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, said: “In ensuring we are creating a pool of highly skilled graduates to meet the needs of employers, Queen’s is playing a key role in supporting the Northern Ireland economy. The Minister’s recent decision to announce additional funding for STEM-related Masters courses at Queen’s is recognition of the role of Higher Education in guaranteeing future economic growth and we will continue to work alongside the Minister to ensure Northern Ireland can compete on a global basis.”

Notes to editors:

1. See photos from the Department for Employment and Learning in our collection at http://www.flickr.com/niexecutive
 

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