‘Bring places to Magee’ Minister told

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Stormont’s University Minister has been told allocating all 500 STEM places to Derry’s University of Ulster Magee campus would bring “an enhanced economic opportunity to Northern Ireland’s worst economic black spot.”

Dr Stephen Farry has been under pressure to allocate all 500 places - announced as part of economic stimulus plans for the North - to the University of Ulster, which has pledged in turn to allocate all places to Magee.

On Tuesday the Minister met with representatives from the city at Stormont including all six Foyle MLAs, the Mayor, the CEO of Derry City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Ilex and lobby group U4D.

Those representatives issued a joint statement - carried in full below - following that meeting.

In that statement they say all places must come to Derry.

The statement reads:”...we are very concerned that not allocating all the additional student numbers to Derry would undermine the effectiveness of that economic package.

“Spreading the allocation of the extra students across a number of different higher and further education institutions would dilute the impact of that economic initiative, to the specific detriment of Derry. “

Dr Farry will meet with all six Foyle MLAs later today.

Joint statement following meeting between Foyle MLAs, University of Ulster, Derry City Council, Ilex, U4D and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, November, 20, at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Message to Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, MLA.

We are all encouraged by your speech in Boston, where you stated that the largest share of the 500 additional science, technology, engineering and maths university student places will be allocated to the University of Ulster, to be located at its Magee campus.

We note the analysis by the OECD, which made clear that Derry-Londonderry has the weakest sub-regional economy in the whole of the UK. This report, ‘Delivering Local Development in Derry~Londonderry: Inclusive Growth Through One Plan’, was prefaced by the First and Deputy First Ministers.

We welcome the economic package for Northern Ireland announced by the Executive. However, we are very concerned that not allocating all the additional student numbers to Derry would undermine the effectiveness of that economic package. Spreading the allocation of the extra students across a number of different higher and further education institutions would dilute the impact of that economic initiative, to the specific detriment of Derry.

Focussing the allocation on Derry would address Northern Ireland’s need to raise skills, while bringing an enhanced economic opportunity to Northern Ireland’s worst economic black spot, thereby enhancing the benefits significantly both to Derry and the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.

1. We support the expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, in line with the objectives agreed in the Derry One Plan. The One Plan is a commitment by the Executive in the Programme for Government and is supported by the Economic Strategy for Northern Ireland.

2. We submit that all of the additional MaSN should be allocated to Derry: most to the University of Ulster for Magee, but with some allocated to the North West Regional College, in line with the One Plan.

3. We endorse and welcome the University of Ulster’s commitment to allocate all of its additional MaSN to Magee, spread across various disciplines, including for IT, renewable technologies and health and wellbeing courses and the creation of an Institute of Sustainable Technology and an Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

4. We recognise that the University of Ulster has submitted a Strategic Outline Case and that only the University of Ulster has submitted a detailed formal proposal seeking the additional student numbers. The University’s Strategic Outline Case has already been approved by the Department for Employment and Learning and is supported by robust economic analysis to prove the sustainable economic and employment benefits not only to the city of Derry, but critically maximise the economic impact to Northern Ireland as envisaged by the Executive in its package of measures to stimulate, grow and sustain the economy.

Signed

Kevin Campbell, Mayor of Derry

Richard Barnett, Vice Chancellor, University of Ulster

Maeve McLaughlin, MLA

Pat Ramsey, MLA

Raymond McCartney, MLA

Mark H. Durkan, MLA

Colum Eastwood, MLA

Mark Durkan, MP

Sharon O’Connor, Chief Executive, Derry City Council

Gerard McCleave, Director of strategy and regeneration, Ilex

Padraig Canavan, President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and chair of U4D

Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

Paul Gosling, co-ordinator, U4D

Sean McMonagle, Regeneration Forum

Aisling Norrby, Regeneration Forum