University lobby group U4D has welcomed a new report which identifies Derry becoming a university city as a key to its success.
The report by the expert think tank, the Academy of Urbanism, has identified that Ebrington Barracks should be offered as a site for a further education institution. “Relocating established cultural facilities to the Barracks risks undermining the critical mass of attractions in the city centre, and compromising the ultimate potential of the Barracks as a development site. The Barracks’ greatest potential may be as a location for a major new higher education campus.” In making such a recommendation, the academy is at odds with the Ilex-facilitated ‘One Plan’ for the regeneration of the city. However, U4D has welcomed the recommendation. Padraig Canavan, chair of U4D, said: “Yet again experts have emphasised that the substantial expansion of university education is central to turning round the fortunes of Derry. As the Academy states, it is surprising that a city of Derry’s size and historic significance is not already a proper ‘University City’. If it were, our city would be in a much stronger place in terms of jobs and prosperity, attracting more investors and helping local businesses to expand and thrive.
The report proposes that consideration be given to establishing a private university college in Derry. Although U4D has worked closely in recent years with the University of Ulster on the issue, Mr Canavan stated that “should government continue to fail to deliver” the lobby group is willing to work with other interested parties.