‘Halt Magee daycare closure plans’: Ramsey

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SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey says moves to close creche facilities at the Magee and Jordanstown campuses of the University of Ulster should be halted until the plans are scrutinised.

At least 30 jobs and dozens of daycare nursery places could be lost if they close as planned on July 31 of this year.

Mr Ramsey said: “I am gravely concerned that all options in relation to the management of the creche facilities, current and past, have not been taken into consideration and the efficiency options have not been given the time to bed in.

“I have written to the vice-chancellor and senior staff within the university to halt any plans to close the facilities and make staff redundant until we receive a delegation involving those affected by closures and get a full picture of the financial and social implications involved.

“I hope to receive a favourable reply from the university that signifies their willingness to engage on the matter.”

A University of Ulster spokesperson said two factors had been crucial in making the decision to close the creches.

“These facilities have been running at a deficit of over £100,000 per year: in the current financial climate the University can no longer afford a subsidy of this magnitude. Students are minority users of the creches. Of the 25,000 registered students at the University, just 23 use these creches. This is not a sustainable position.

“We understand that for users and staff this will not be a popular decision and regret that there will be some inconvenience in that existing users will have to make alternative childcare arrangements.

“However, it will be almost six months before the creches close at the end of the academic year and eight months until students begiwn the new academic year in late September 2013. Our Student Support staff are available to help students at Magee and Jordanstown find alternative childcare providers and, to that end, we are compiling a register of suitable alternative providers.”

The university says financial support for students and staff requiring childcare services will continue to be available at all campuses.