New Ulster University student accommodation in town centre would be boost for business - Derry MLA

A Derry MLA has called for the construction of new student accommodation close to the city centre to accommodate additional university students attending Ulster University’s Magee campus.

Hundreds of additional students are set to arrive in Derry next year after confirmation numerous UU health science courses are transferring from Jordanstown to Derry.

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has written to UU Vice Chancellor Paul Bartholomew urging him that new accommodation to be constructed for incoming students should be situated between the campus and the city centre.

Ms. McLaughlin wrote: “Our city will benefit substantially from the intake of new students. That benefit will increase even further if the new accommodation needed for them is located in or close to the city centre. More specifically, if students live between campus and city centre this will have significant positive impact on the commercial heart of the city, through its retail and hospitality sectors.

Magee by night. (File picture via Derry & Strabane Council by Patryk Sadowski Photography)

“It is essential that core institutions such as the university work together with the public and private sectors, in order to maximise the combined impact. I suggest this would in this instance be best achieve by providing student accommodation where it will have the most economic impact, which would be close of Derry’s city centre. Moreover, this would provide the best student experience by giving students easier access to the benefits of urban life, with close proximity to retail facilitities and evening activities.”

The Foyle MLA urged the Vice Chancellor, the UUniversity’s Council and Senate to consider the potential benefits of this to the wider city. “Our retail and hospitality sectors have suffered terribly through the pandemic, and locating new student accommodation close to the city centre would provide a real and much needed boost to our commercial sectors. This, in turn, would help to safeguard existing jobs, as well as creating new jobs.”

“I hope Ulster University will accept the logic of my argument.”

Sinéad McLaughlin added: “While my party and I have campaigned for years for the expansion of Magee on the basis of the skills that will be created that will benefit the city and so will create well paid jobs, it is also very important that the expansion provides wider economic benefits through higher spending in the city and on local businesses. That, too, will create more jobs.”