Newly elected People Before Profit MLA for Foyle, Eamonn McCann, believes the most recent delay to the development of the Ulster University Belfast campus “presents an opportunity for Magee”.
The new Foyle MLA has renewed his call for an entire Faculty of the University to be moved to Magee.
Mr McCann argued that this would help advance the expansion of Magee and, at the same time, free up much-needed space on the Belfast campus, which is generally thought to be too small for the expected number of students and staff.
“Because universities are increasingly run as businesses, rather than educational establishments, the needs of students and staff are ignored. Anyone who has examined the plans for the Belfast campus will have seen that this is certainly the case there. Because teaching staff will have to ‘hot desk’ in open plan areas, it is hard to see how they will be able to provide the level of pastoral care for students for which Ulster was well-known. An upset student will have no privacy while the lecturer runs around trying to find a room where they can meet in an emergency situation.
“Hundreds of millions are being poured into the new Belfast campus while Magee shrinks”, said Mr McCann. “We hear a lot about the new teaching block that is being built, but the way courses are being moved from Magee and staff being made redundant, it is hard to see who will be taught and who will teach in that new block.”
Mr McCann said that the redundancies which have recently taken place at Ulster University have disproportionately hit the North West and Magee even more than Coleraine.
“We need to reverse that trend and a first step in doing that would be to bring a full Faculty to Magee,” he said.
McCann stated that one of his first acts as an MLA will be to seek a meeting with Ulster University’s Vice Chancellor, Paddy Nixon.
“I will also be arguing for some of the administrative departments of the university to be moved to the Magee campus, as well as the staff and students of at least one Faculty.
“If it is not possible to achieve even these small steps towards expansion, then those who see the only path towards a University for Derry being through Ulster University will have to explain how Magee will ever see expansion,” he said.