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University ‘needs business case for Magee’

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper - University of Ulster needs to put forward proposal for expansion at Magee campus.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper - University of Ulster needs to put forward proposal for expansion at Magee campus.

  • by Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper
 

Recently I attended a meeting of the Higher and Further Education Working group. It was established through the One Plan to explore ways of expanding and consolidating the third level educational offer in Derry.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper says it’s time for the University of Ulster to show they’re serious about their Derry campus - and quickly propose their new plans for expansion

Recently I attended a meeting of the Higher and Further Education Working group. It was established through the One Plan to explore ways of expanding and consolidating the third level educational offer in Derry.

The meeting was wide-ranging and covered a number of topics. One was the need for the third level institutions to co-operate with the community training sector to ensure synergies between the courses on offer from all the agencies in the training and third level/higher education sector. We also discussed the recent announcement by John O’Dowd that Magee University would be given sole bidder status for the Foyle College lands when the school moves to the Waterside. I was surprised to hear some people in the discussion use the lack of MasN spaces [cap on student numbers] made available to the Magee campus as the reason why this expansion could not take place.

As I pointed out, the current allocation of MasN spaces to Magee is based on a business case forwarded to the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) in June 2010. A recent assembly question submitted by Sinn Féin confirmed that DEL have not received any further business cases from the university since. From Sinn Fein’s perspective, the university cannot sit on its hands and use the lack of MasN as the reason why expansion cannot take place. The University should instead move quickly to develop a new business case which focuses on the fact that the lands at Foyle are now available. By doing this the department will be put on notice that the university is serious in its commitment to the Magee campus.

The submission of a new business case will also place the onus on the department to reconsider the levels of MasN spaces available to Magee, especially considering the fact that an expanded campus should mean an expansion of the types of courses on offer, in particular the areas of Medicine, I.T./digital culture, renewables, law, humanities, languages and R &D. Retaining the current approach of waiting for more MasN places to be allocated before expansion plans are put forward is not an option. The Foyle lands should be vacant by 2015. If we are serious about Derry becoming a ‘university city’ we cannot wait until then to put down the marker to the Executive that we need a top class university.

 

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