The University of Ulster is expanding - in Birmingham

0
Have your say

Browsing through back numbers of the Birmingham Post, as you do, I came across the headline: “New University of Ulster campus brings £6m boost to Birmingham’s economy.”

Birmingham? University of Ulster?

The story, from last July, began: “The latest addition to Birmingham’s university landscape will help bolster the regional economy by generating additional revenue of up to £6 million from international students enrolling this year.”

The UU campus in the centre of the city has so far enrolled 300 students for courses in business studies, IT and accountancy, and expects to sign up another 300 for the next academic year.

The first 300 students come from 19 countries, including China, Brazil, Nepal, Nigeria and India. Each will have paid a hefty four-figure fee, on top of the cost of their courses, to assure themselves of accreditation and thus of entitlement to a UK visa. A hefty profit in that, I imagine.

The UU investment in Birmingham has been made for the same reason a supermarket chain might open a new store - to expand its business and market share and thereby boost its profits. (Of course, where there’s a prospect of profit there’s the possibility of loss. UU management might usefully take a look at the recent history of the University of Wales.)

In addition to importing lucrative students from abroad, the UU’s Birmingham campus is open for local business, too. The Mail quotes a spokesperson: “A lot of British students might want to do a degree at the University of Ulster but don’t want to move to Northern Ireland.”

When the idea of a UU campus in Birmingham was first mooted, did anyone from Magee interject, “Steady on”, and make the case for business studies, IT and/or accountancy to come to Derry instead? Did anybody suggest that there might be as many takers for coming to Derry as to Birmingham if the attractions and ambience of the city and its surroundings were brought to their attention?

Here’s a couple of other questions while I’m on the subject:

How come none of the administrative functions of the university is located at Magee? HR, for example. Or IT. Has this ever been suggested by any of the management team at Magee?

Would the annual running costs of the creche being closed at Magee because it is no longer affordable be covered by the cost of the recent management excursion to China? How many UU chiefs went on the jaunt to the Land of Confucius anyway - and how many of these were from Magee? Money being so tight the wains have be thrown out of the creche, I take it nobody squandered public money by travelling business class?

Mention of Confucius reminds me - isn’t it amazing His Holiness the Dalai Lama wasn’t pictured at Magee during his visit to Derry last month? Particularly in light of the fact that he did actually visit Magee? And even more particularly when we consider that one of those he met at the college would usually bite your hand off to be pictured for the papers with a visiting celebrity.

Well, it may not be as amazing as it might seem. The University of Ulster’s Confucius Institute is subsidised by the Chinese Government. The Dalai Lama is the leader of Chinese-occupied Tibet.

One in jail, another runs free

Readers may be aware of the dodgy English businessman who made a fortune selling Middle Eastern countries a fraudulent means of detecting explosives. I wonder what this man’s reaction was when he heard last week that Jim McCormick, 58, had been jailed for 10 years for selling Middle Eastern countries a fraudulent means of detecting explosives.

The court in London heard that McCormick had made as much as £10 million from passing off a gadget designed to find lost golf-balls as a bomb-detector. What amazed observers was that the gizmo could be seen to be useless by prising it open and glancing inside.

In contrast, Tony Blair has made at least £25 million and counting from Middle Eastern regimes impressed by his ability to detect weapons of mass destruction, even though it was perfectly obvious from a glance at the evidence that he was talking through his posterior orifice.

It is impossible to say how many people lost their lives as a result of the Blair fraud. Many multiples of the number that McCormick can be blamed for, anyway. But Blair isn’t in jail. Instead, he is raking it in from rulers delighted that his device had worked to bring down a regime that was as dictatorial as themselves but was aligned against them - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan etc., etc.

There can be no justice while Blair runs free.

When reminders may be helpful

This is not just a pretty space. That’s been demonstrated (again) by news from the NW Regional College that Seamus Murphy, principal, and Kate Duffy, head of HR, have resigned from their regional positions as joint chair of the Lecturers’ Negotiating Committee and chair of Regional Human Resources respectively.

The resignations had been recommended by Harry McConnell in his report on industrial relations at the college. It may have taken a couple of nudges from this column, but at least the pair have now complied. Fair play to them for agreeing to focus more fully on their day jobs for a while.

Mr. McConnell had also recommended that the chair of the Board of Governors, Bertie Faulkner, should resign as chair of Colleges NI. This doesn’t seem to have happened. Maybe the resignation letter has been lost in the post and will turn up any day now.

Meanwhile, the column continues on its indefatigable pursuit of the Curriculum Audit, Derry’s equivalent of the Lost Book of Herodotus. The audit is key to understanding the confusion and bother which has soured relations at the college over the last couple of years. The Board of Governors has insisted that the redundancies which some lecturers believed had targeted union activists had in fact been based on objective factors identified in the audit. But no copy of the audit has been produced.

MLAs have asked for it. As has the lecturers’ trades union, UCU. Not to mention the occasional journalist. Maybe, like Mr. Faulkner’s resignation letter, it will turn up soon.

The lady has yet to sing

The campaign against the proposed gasification/incineration plant at Maydown has gained considerable momentum since community groups first signalled their concerns. The plant would handle waste from seven council areas, the volume being necessary to justify the investment.

So the people of Maydown/Strathfoyle, with Du Pont, Foyle Meats etc. already on their doorsteps, are being asked to accept the burning of six other council areas’ waste.

The campaign has every chance of success. Local SDLP representative Councillor Gus Hastings took a firm stand against Maydown being used as a dumping ground back in 2005. He was speaking for the Strathfoyle Community Association at the time. But there is no reason to believe that he has changed his mind since becoming a councillor.

And Derry Sinn Fein councillors are holding firm despite their colleagues elsewhere seeming to believe that shipping their waste to Derry is an excellent idea.

Pundits again wise after the event

RTE and ITV pundits were unanimous last week that Munich and Dortmund are far better teams than Madrid or Barcelona.

These are the same pundits who told us a month earlier that Madrid and Barcelona even more so were so brilliant that their likes had never before been seen.

In fact, Dortmund had been second-best to Spanish minnows Malaga for 90 of the 94 minutes of their quarter final, and in the end had to defend desperately to hold off Madrid in the semi.

Barca started at the Nou Camp with nine fit players plus Xavi and Iniesta, both of whom had to be hauled off. Messi had been unfit for the first leg and should not have been played and didn’t take the field in the second.

Barca finished the second leg without Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba and Busquets. We should wait until next season before deciding whether there has really been a changing of the guard.

And anyway, football matches are not to be measured only by the brilliance of the play. Take City’s win at the Brandywell which lifted us to the top of the league on Friday night. Brilliant football? Not at all. Dire, some of it.

But one down with five minutes to go and we thump in two to take the points . . . now that’s what I call a brilliant match.

Browsing through back numbers of the Birmingham Post, as you do, I came across the headline: “New University of Ulster campus brings £6m boost to Birmingham’s economy.”

Birmingham? University of Ulster?

The story, from last July, began: “The latest addition to Birmingham’s university landscape will help bolster the regional economy by generating additional revenue of up to £6 million from international students enrolling this year.”

The UU campus in the centre of the city has so far enrolled 300 students for courses in business studies, IT and accountancy, and expects to sign up another 300 for the next academic year.

The first 300 students come from 19 countries, including China, Brazil, Nepal, Nigeria and India. Each will have paid a hefty four-figure fee, on top of the cost of their courses, to assure themselves of accreditation and thus of entitlement to a UK visa. A hefty profit in that, I imagine.

The UU investment in Birmingham has been made for the same reason a supermarket chain might open a new store - to expand its business and market share and thereby boost its profits. (Of course, where there’s a prospect of profit there’s the possibility of loss. UU management might usefully take a look at the recent history of the University of Wales.)

In addition to importing lucrative students from abroad, the UU’s Birmingham campus is open for local business, too. The Mail quotes a spokesperson: “A lot of British students might want to do a degree at the University of Ulster but don’t want to move to Northern Ireland.”

When the idea of a UU campus in Birmingham was first mooted, did anyone from Magee interject, “Steady on”, and make the case for business studies, IT and/or accountancy to come to Derry instead? Did anybody suggest that there might be as many takers for coming to Derry as to Birmingham if the attractions and ambience of the city and its surroundings were brought to their attention?

Here’s a couple of other questions while I’m on the subject:

How come none of the administrative functions of the university is located at Magee? HR, for example. Or IT. Has this ever been suggested by any of the management team at Magee?

Would the annual running costs of the creche being closed at Magee because it is no longer affordable be covered by the cost of the recent management excursion to China? How many UU chiefs went on the jaunt to the Land of Confucius anyway - and how many of these were from Magee? Money being so tight the wains have be thrown out of the creche, I take it nobody squandered public money by travelling business class?

Mention of Confucius reminds me - isn’t it amazing His Holiness we didn’t see the Dalai Lama pictured at Magee during his visit to Derry last month? Particularly in light of the fact that he did actually visit Magee? And even more particularly when we consider that one of those he met at the college would usually bite your hand off to be pictured for the papers with a visiting celebrity.

Well, it may not be as amazing as it might seem. The University of Ulster’s Confucius Institute is subsidised by the Chinese Government. The Dalai Lama is the leader of Chinese-occupied Tibet.