Ulster University is hoping to capitalise on international sympathy for Northern Ireland with a bid to raise Pounds 70 million to help tackle social issues and promote economic regeneration.
The university has joined with the business community to set up the Northern Ireland Education Foundation to raise the funds from Irish, United Kingdom and international business contacts over the next five years. One pioneering project is a Pounds 500,000 information technology network to link the province's further education colleges, giving students 24-hour on-line access to the latest distance- learning technologies and courseware.
Brian O'Connor, head of Quality Health Care Asia Ltd and chairman of the foundation, said: "The University of Ulster has always been involved in projects which go far beyond the areas traditionally associated with education. Several of us feel it is now time to help."
A sister organisation, the American Friends of the University of Ulster, has been set up in the United States and is expected to hold meetings with senior business and community leaders.
Sue Ball, spokeswoman for the organisation, said: "There is a lot of international goodwill towards Northern Ireland at the moment.
It makes sense to harness that positive feeling on to the University of Ulster's increasing reputation as an organisation which crosses all sections of the community and takes a very practical approach to the problems we still have to face," she said.