Assembly debate on Magee

SDLP's Pat Ramsey.  (1005JB04)
SDLP's Pat Ramsey. (1005JB04)

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry will be urged to grant the Magee campus 1,000 undergraduate places during an Assembly debate today.

SDLP Universities spokesman, Pat Ramsey, has co-sponsored an SDLP motion urging the Assembly to call on the Minister to ensure the move takes place during the current Comprehensive Spending Review period “to provide the key economic driver that is envisaged by the IIex Regeneration Plan”. The minister announced last month that the proposed Magee expansion would not go ahead before 2015 despite a massive lobby by local stakeholders.

But Mr Ramsey said the huge demand for student places at Magee “must be addressed immediately”.

“We know from the massive amount of applications received for this academic year – 5,786 that only 1,111 were accepted to courses at Magee, and of those accepted, only 727 were local applicants.”

Mr Ramsey urged all Derry MLAs to back the motion.

Derry City Council debated a similar motion at yesterday’s meeting of the local authority.

Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney MLA said yesterday that he would “impress on the minister” that the expansion of the Magee campus is essential to North West Regional regeneration plan.

“The minister has stated that he will make 600 new university places available this year. I will impress on the minister that it is our considered opinion that all of these places should be allocated to Magee. “This would provide for a more qualitative outcome generally than spreading them out across all of the university campuses.

OFMDFM Junior Minister Martina Anderson backed Mr McCartney’s call, adding: “Magee’s bid for 1,000 additional undergraduates is the linchpin in the University of Ulster’s strategic plan and is an important building block towards the target of 9,400 students by 2020.”