Garbhán Downey is running for the upper house of the Oireachtas to highlight the issue of establishing an independent cross-border university.
“It’s not so much about getting elected – it’s about the issue,” he said.
Mr Downey said he has been “backed by friends and graduates.”
The University College Galway graduate will be one of 19 candidates competing for three seats in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Senate Constituency.
The former newspaper editor said he is the only person standing from Northern Ireland in that constituency.
Mr Downey helped co-found the Derry University Group in 2013.
The group seeks to establish an independent university in the north west.
“Derry and Donegal has a responsibility to take every opportunity to highlight the fact we need a (cross-border) university”, Mr Downey said.
He added: “This campaign is about making an impact and having the discussion on a national level.”