Martin Doherty’s letter of last Friday criticises local politicians, Martina Anderson in particular, for hindering the university expansion plans. This criticism fundamentally conflicts with my experience of local, political involvement in this process which has been and continues to be excellent.
The proposal for higher education expansion developed by Education and Skills SWG has, for the first time, united the city, the University of Ulster, U4D, all the local political parties, Derry City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and ILEX, in demanding expansion of University provision. This Expansion Plan (see the ILEX Official Regeneration Plan at http://www.ilex-urc.com/ for a summary (or http://www.ilex-urc.com/ILEX/files/3c/3c320cdb-b588-4268-b5ae-3f68df52a05c.pdf p226 for the full text) is now the ‘One Plan with One Voice’ for expansion of higher education in the City and enjoys strong cross-party political support, not least from Martina Anderson, though I could also mention Pat Ramsey, who sat on our committee, and Willie Hay.
All Foyle MLA have written to the NI Executive in support of the 1000 student expansion at Magee requested by the University of Ulster.’
For clarification, the Expansion Plan does not depend on the funding of any other project. At present the University of Ulster has a broadly supported preferred site for development of new buildings when they are eventually required, but should this preferred site become unavailable, alternative locations will be developed as a matter of urgency.
Derry’s regeneration is closely linked with the expansion of the University and the plan developed to achieve this expansion is a matter of record and is universally agreed. I would appeal to interested citizens to read the documents online to enable informed support for this overwhelmingly positive position.
Chair, Further and Higher Education Committee, ILEX Education and Skills Sectoral Working Group.