Colum Eastwood urges Brandon Lewis to help scrap Magee student places and funding cap to capitalise on Irish Protocol competitive advantage
Derry MP Colum Eastwood has urged Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to work to scrap the cap on student numbers at Magee in order to help make the most of the competitive advantage the north enjoys due to the Irish Protocol.
The SDLP leader raised the matter in the British House of Commons this afternoon.
"We didn't want Brexit but we do have the Protocol and the Protocol is here to stay despite what anybody else might say. It does give us a competitive advantage. Will he work with me to make the most of that competitive advantage by getting rid of the maximum aggregate student numbers (MaSN) cap and the historic under-provision of university places for Northern Ireland?" he asked.
Mr. Lewis agreed that the north enjoyed a 'huge competitive advantage' and referred to Magee's reputation as one of the best Schools of Nursing in the world.
But he didn't address the cap on full-time student places and restrictions on university funding that apply in the north but not Britain.
"The honourable gentleman makes a really important point that's worth highlighting. We've got phenomenal - two great universities - in Northern Ireland that are globally leading.
"In fact one of them recently won the award for the most entrepreneurial university and one for the best nursing provision universities in the UK and that is something we should be proud.
"We should be looking at how we can develop and grow that work for the benefit of the universities, for the wider economy and their phenomenal input and the huge competitive advantage that Northern Ireland has, not least of all because of the amazing skill sets it has across Northern Ireland.
"I'm very happy to work with him to ensure we are developing that, promoting that and taking advantage of that for the people of Northern Ireland."