Northern Ireland, ATCUAE discuss new sports degree

In the first leg of the Northern Ireland Executive’s trade visit to the Middle East, the first and deputy first ministers this morning held discussions with the University of Ulster and the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the governing body of motorsport in the country, about the further development of their relationship, including the prospects for a jointly taught undergraduate sports management degree with the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates, which would be accredited by the University.

By Kt Report

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Published: Fri 20 Apr 2012, 1:04 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:47 PM

The discussions took place at Abu Dhabi’s spectacular Formula One race track on Yas Island where the University of Ulster’s Sports Academy has been working in collaboration with the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE to develop new standards within motor racing. The work focuses not just on enhanced driver skills, but extends to issues affecting how the sport is managed and run.

Speaking after the discussions first minister, Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA said:

“The Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster is one of the leading sports centres in the UK and its role in developing driver talent and in quality controlling the conditions under which motorsport is conducted internationally reinforces our position on the global map. The opportunity for the co-delivery of an undergraduate course in sports management will further enhance Northern Ireland’s relationships in the Gulf region and fits in with the executive’s strategy to increase internationalisation.

“As ambassadors for Northern Ireland skills and research we are able to take considerable pride in the University of Ulster’s special relationship with the ATCUAE and its potential for future growth.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA praised the role played by the University of Ulster Sports Academy. “The fact that young drivers who emerge with success from the UAE Motorsport Star Programme come to the Jordanstown campus to be groomed for elite motor sport speaks volumes about our expertise.

“The intensive training provided concentrates not just on racing skill, but also upon the importance of discipline, professional focus and psychological awareness. Nothing is left to chance. The star performers in Emirati motorsport are being nurtured and created at Jordanstown.” Mohammed ben Sulayem, president of the ATCUAE, added: “We are delighted to have this strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the University of Ulster, and believe it will continue to grow in years to come. This relationship, which is unique in world motorsport, provides great opportunities for the university in terms of research and education, while also bringing a new, academic approach to our sport that increases both safety and sustainability, both of which are cornerstones of the Motorsport Knowledge Institute, the ATCUAE’s new training and education division.”

Meanwhile the signing in late 2010 of a research and training agreement between ATCUAE and the University of Ulster is on track to produce results, as Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster MLA pointed out. “Once again our universities are demonstrating their world class reputation in the areas of research and development and quality of teaching. Further Investigation into the problem of dehydration at major sporting events will be conducted when the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix takes place in November, before being completed shortly after at the Dubai International Rally, and the results are eagerly awaited. A loss of only 2 per cent bodyweight can reduce task performance by 10 – 20 per cent and the findings produced by this research will contribute towards the formulation of best practice for race marshals working in high temperature environments across the motorsporting world.”

Professor Richard Barnett, vice chancellor, Ulster of Ulster, who joined the Ministers for their discussions, said: “This exciting partnership has been brought about by the personal drive and ambition of Sulayem to see motorsport here operate at the highest international level. And I am delighted that the University of Ulster is working with him to achieve this ambition.

The Ministers’ visit to the UAE to support the University of Ulster and Northern Ireland education and business interests in the region has helped us move along the negotiations for the delivery of the first ever jointly taught sports management undergraduate course and I am confident we will be in a position to make an announcement in the near future.”

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