UU ‘committed’ to Magee

Denis Bradley.
Denis Bradley.

The University of Ulster (UU) has moved to defend its record of trying to secure an expanded footprint in Derry after questions were raised over its commitment.

Denis Bradley raised questions over the UU’s position after Martin McGuinness vowed that the expansion of Magee will become a reality.

Speaking at the annual Chamber of Commerce dinner, Mr McGuinness said an economic appraisal was being prepared by the Derry Strategy Board, with the business case outlining the economic need for expansion expected to be presented to Minister Farry within weeks.

While welcoming Mr McGuinness’ commitment, Mr Bradley expressed concern that the business case was something that was “two a penny” in government circles and may not change a lot on its own.

He also questioned why the UU drew down a massive loan from the European Central Bank for its campus move from Jordanstown to Belfast, without using some of this money for Magee’s expansion: “With one stroke of the pen they could have given one or two faculties or schools to Derry. They chose not to.

“There are massive question marks over the commitment of the university. I can’t see any way in which the university is showing any real commitment.”

A University of Ulster spokeswoman said they remained “fully committed” and would continue working with stakeholders “to take any necessary action to secure expansion for Derry.”

She added: “In recent years, all additional student places awarded to Ulster University have been allocated to the Magee campus and new, cutting edge courses are being delivered at Magee. Over £50 million has been invested by the university in the development of the physical estate. This will be further enhanced by an £11 million teaching and learning block.”