Expanding the University of Ulster’ Magee campus is key to addressing Derry’s dire unemployment situation, lobby group U4D have said.
Padraig Canavan, chair of U4D, said that if politicians are serious about improving the local economy, they will make the “substantial expansion of Magee” athe main priority.
Mr Canavan’s comments come after the Journal reported on Friday that Derry has the highest number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants across all 406 local council areas in the UK. Furthermore, it has the highest rate of both long term and youth claimants.
“Studies have repeatedly found that the number one factor that would positively change the city’s economy would be the substantial expansion of Magee,” Mr Canavan said.
“If we want to create jobs, and preferably very well paid jobs, then we have to focus on becoming a high skilled city. That comes about through having a substantially sized university presence, delivering the skills relevant to the modern economy.
“It is, to be frank, a no brainer.”
He said the entire city would benefit from Magee’s expansion.
“Initially there is construction employment, then as the greater number of students, lecturers and administrators are in place, their spending goes into the housing, retail, hospitality and other sectors.
“Universities are major employers and major contributors to national and local economies.”
Mr Canavan said research indicates a successful city economy is dependant on four factors.
“ Those factors are a full sized university; the relevant skills that come not just from the university, but also from further education and schools; high quality road and rail links; and an airport with good connections.
“If politicians are serious about turning around our economy, those are the factors they must concentrate on - but especially the substantial expansion of Magee,” he said.