SDLP Employment and Learning Spokesperson Pat Ramsey has welcomed a commitment from the DEL Minister that he would look positively on any future capital requests from the University of Ulster in relation to Magee during a meeting with colleague Mark Durkan MP in Stormont today, but has called on the University management at Magee to ‘refocus’ after it emerged no business case was submitted to the Department when a £10m new teaching block was declined funding recently.
Mr Ramsey said: “I want to welcome the commitment from the Minister on capital funding going forward, it is important to know that the Executive Minister responsible for Magee’s expansion remains committed to the Derry campus as an economic driver for our City. The Programme for Government commitment on the implementation of the One Plan is still the focal point for Derry’s economic growth going forward, and the SDLP remains resolute in it’s support for its principles and the need for the entire Executive and its partners to deliver on the promise made.
However, I want to express my deep concern that the Minister revealed to Mark and I at the meeting that with relation to the £10m new teaching block at Magee which was recently refused funding, that no business case was submitted by the University. I find this incredible when we are continuously calling on the Executive to show commitment to the Derry campus that management at Magee did not submit a required business case. I will be seeking an urgent meeting with senior officers at Magee and call on them to refocus their efforts in this regard.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “I was glad to get the opportunity along with Pat to meet the Minister to discuss the pressing case for university expansion, underpinned by stronger policy commitment from his Department and the Executive.
“We recognised that the pressing case for university expansion in Derry is in the context of the need for expansion of higher education in the region and also the need for a significant uplift in the higher education budget by the Executive.
“As well as pointing out the 650 additional places at Magee which will have been delivered next year, Dr Farry indicated that he would look positively at capital funding opportunities that might arise if firm proposals come from the university.
“As well as covering the case for expansion at Magee and the course areas that should be involved, we also discussed issues in respect of skills, further education, apprenticeships and employer connections.”