Pressure on Farry over extra places for Magee

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Pressure was last night mounting on the north’s learning Minister to allocate all 500 newly created university places to Magee.

Dr Stephen Farry has yet to reveal where the 500 extra places - announced last week as part of economic stimulus plans for the north - will be allocated.

The University of Ulster has said regardless of how many places it receives it will allocate them to the Derry campus.

Last night Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin said she was pushing to secure a meeting with Dr Farry - a meeting she hopes will be attended by all six of the city’s MLAs.

“There can be no room for complacency or party politicking on this issue.

“We must demonstrate a strong case for Derry as a ‘priority’ area and Magee as a catalyst project for Derry City’s ‘One Plan’ regeneration strategy and do so with one clear voice,” she says.

The Sinn Fein MLA says she will be “reminding the Minister of his Party’s manifesto commitment to the substantial expansion of the Magee Campus prior to the last election.”

“He now has the opportunity to go some way to fulfil that pledge.”

Derry’s SDLP MP Mark Durkan said expanding the university is “the biggest single thing we can do for the local economy.”

“That is why the SDLP have consistently thrown their support behind ambitious plans to substantially increase the size of the Magee campus, with a big increase in student numbers and many new courses in subjects that are relevant to the new economy industries – including the so-called STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths.

“The gains from a stronger university presence in Derry will feed into our local economy for the benefit of everyone in this city.”

SDLP Employment and Learning Spokesperson Pat Ramsey called on Dr Farry to “prioritise Derry and Magee as I have been fighting for him to do for a considerable period.”

Meanwhile the chair of the Alliance Party’s Foyle branch also urged party colleague Dr Farry to ensure all places come to Derry.

Stanley Page says he will be contacting the minister and pressing for all 500 places to come to Derry.

“Our city’s One Plan highlights the essential role of Higher Education and Further Education to grow the economy of the city.

“It aims for 9,400 Full Time Equivalent students at UU Magee by 2020. These 500 new undergraduate places can be a significant part of that total.”

“This is the message I will be bring to the Minister.”

Padraig Canavan, chair of lobby group U4D, praised the efforts of politicians and University of Ulster bosses.

“We congratulate those local politicians and political parties that have called for all the extra 500 places to go to Magee and we sincerely hope they are successful in persuading the minister that all these places should come to Magee.

“The University of Ulster is to be congratulated for its commitment that all extra MaSN places will be allocated to Magee.”