I thank the Deputy for the question.
It relates to my recent education trade mission to the UAE. While there, I engaged with 450 Irish teachers at two meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I thank all the teachers who turned out on both nights. These meetings gave me the opportunity to hear the challenges facing these teachers and gave them a chance to offer practical solutions to some issues. The meetings allowed me in my role as Minister to meet with these teachers and discuss first hand with them the challenges they face in returning to Ireland, and to consider ways that we can work together to support them when they decide to return to work in Ireland.
To facilitate this, teachers volunteered to form a group to liaise on the identified issues with the embassy and my Department. Arrangements are being made for the first meeting of this group in the autumn. During my visit, I also had a number of productive meetings that will further develop and enhance the co-operation that currently exists between Ireland and the UAE in the higher education area.
Today I had a follow-up meeting as a result of that engagement in the UAE.
The education system plays a key role in forging crucial global relationships and building an international outlook and awareness. One of the core ambitions of my Government’s international education strategy, Irish Educated, Globally Connected, is to support the development of internationally-oriented and globally competitive institutions. The visit has assisted us in delivering on this ambition. I met my counterpart, the Emirati Minister for Education, H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi. We discussed some of the common challenges we faced in our respective education systems and agreed that we would work together to address these challenges through the exchange of information and collaboration.
I also visited a number of Emirati higher education Institutions such as Khalifa University and the City University College of Ajman, where I had the opportunity to promote the Irish higher education sector and very fruitful discussions on how to increase the number of academic, research, staff and student exchanges between higher education institutions in both countries.
While in Dubai I attended a business breakfast of the Irish Business Network to highlight possibilities for partnerships between Irish and Emirati educational institutions and to meet key Irish business community members.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I also visited RCSI and Mohamed Bin Rashid University in the Mohamed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre. The RCSI has been present in Dubai since 2005 offering postgraduate education, training and consultancy in leadership, management, patient safety and quality. There is already a strong connection through the RCSI alumni network and my visit as Minister for Education and Skills aimed to strengthen that relationship.
I thank the Irish ambassador and his staff in the Irish Embassy, the local Irish groups, including the GAA, and the Irish living in the UAE for the work they did to make the visit a success.