999 days later: Derry university expansion plans

Promises on the Magee expansion remain unfulfilled despite the New Decade, New Approach agreement stated that the Executive would produce expansion proposals for 10,000 students at Ulster University’s campus in Derry.
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An invitation will be reissued to the Economy Minister, Gordon Lynas asking him to come before a special council meeting to discuss the matter after a proposal from SDLP councillor Rory Farrell passed unanimously.

Councillor Farrell raised the matter at the Governance & Strategic Planning committee saying: “I want to reflect on the good news and that’s the relocation of the Health Sciences from Jordanstown to Magee.

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“Last month saw the influx of approximately 900 students right here in Derry and that’s going to complement the existing health courses we have at Magee so there’s going to be a health cluster here in the North west so that’s good news and something to be welcomed.

Ulster University - Magee campus. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)Ulster University - Magee campus. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)
Ulster University - Magee campus. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

“But, and there is always a but, the promise of wider expansion has yet to be fulfilled.”

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The Ballyarnett representative continued: “It has been 999 days since the New Decade, New Approach agreement said that university expansion proposals would be produced. And 999 days later, we have nothing. We have no expansion plans. We’re actually no closer to 10,000 students than we were in 2015 – and that’s seven years ago.

“We have invited the Economy Minister here on numerous occasions to discuss those plans, to discuss the way forward with the university. And he has declined our invitation, he has not come before the special council meeting.”

Derry & Strabane SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell.Derry & Strabane SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell.
Derry & Strabane SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell.
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Councillor Farrell concluded: “So I think it’s timely, given this milestone of 999 days, that we reissue that invitation to the minister because it’s important that we as elected members have a good understanding of progress towards this really, really important piece in the jigsaw of Derry’s development, which is 10,000 students at Magee.”

The first 70 students were welcomed at the first graduate medical school in the North, based at the Magee campus of Ulster University, last year.

As part of the plan for the expansion of the Magee campus, a permanent home for the School of Medicine will be located on the riverfront, on the Strand Road in the years to come.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter

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