Ulster University recognised as Northern Ireland's first age-friendly university

  • Ulster University has confirmed that it's fully endorsing the principles of the international Age-Friendly University Initiative, becoming Northern Ireland's first age-friendly university.

    The word "Student" usually conjures up images of young people in their 20s juggling a mix of late-night parties and last-minute cram sessions, but the reality is that an increasing number of today's university places are going to mature students. It's no surprise that there's a strong desire for people to retrain in Northern Ireland's rapidly advancing tech scene, and many companies will now sponsor staff to undertake a specialised degree part time alongside work.

    A NISRA report has recently predicted that the number of people aged 65 and over in Northern Ireland is set to rise by 65% in by 2041, and many will need to retrain into new career fields as automation and the advancement of tech continues at pace. Ulster University has now been recognised as Northern Ireland’s first "age-friendly" University as it has fully endorsed the ten principles set down by the international Age-Friendly University Initiative:


     * To encourage the participation of older adults in all the core activities of the university, including educational and research programmes.

     * To promote personal and career development in the second half of life and to support those who wish to pursue "second careers"

     * To recognise the range of educational needs of older adults (from those who were early school-leavers through to those who wish to pursue Master's or PhD qualifications).

     * To promote intergenerational learning to facilitate the reciprocal sharing of expertise between learners of all ages.

     * To widen access to online educational opportunities for older adults to ensure a diversity of routes to participation.

     * To ensure that the university's research agenda is informed by the needs of an ageing society and to promote public discourse on how higher education can better respond to the varied interests and needs of older adults.

     * To increase the understanding of students of the longevity dividend and the increasing complexity and richness that ageing brings to our society.

     * To enhance access for older adults to the university's range of health and wellness programmes and its arts and cultural activities.

     * To engage actively with the university's own retired community.

     * To ensure regular dialogue with organisations representing the interests of the ageing population.

    Ulster University Vice Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon commented on the initiative: "People are living longer and the world’s population is ageing. This is something to celebrate but it also poses major societal and policy challenges, and our world-leading researchers are tackling health care, economic and social matters that are associated with longer life spans."

    The scheme has been highly commended by charity Age NI, which focuses on helping older people to live independent lives and have fulfilling careers. Age NI's Chief Executive Linda Robinson welcomed the news: "We commend Ulster University on becoming Northern Ireland’s first age-friendly university. We too are mindful of Northern Ireland’s rapidly ageing population and agree that we need to do more to address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society."

    Source: Ulster University

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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