NI Economy Minister Diane Dodds criticised over Coleraine remarks after Derry’s student numbers boost
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The DUP Minister said she will raise ‘balancing’ campuses when she meet with a UU representative in the coming days. She said: “Clearly this is a good day for Magee and is another step forward for the university in the North West. I do however understand the concern that this announcement has prompted. Many in the Coleraine area, who had expected these courses to be moved to their local campus, will now be left disappointed.
“It is important that the university now demonstrates that Coleraine maintains a central place in its plans by moving some additional courses there.
“I was disappointed that I learned about this announcement only late yesterday afternoon. While I understand that our universities are autonomous institutions, I would have, nonetheless, welcomed an earlier discussion.”
Her comments drew criticism from various quarters. Foyle MLP Colum Eastwood Tweeted: “This statement is shocking. An Economy Minister who doesn’t support courses going to Derry.... 10,000 students is a commitment in the ‘New Decade, New Agreement’. “
Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan meanwhile claimed Minister Dodds had “done nothing in the last year to progress commitments in ‘New Decade, New Approach’ to expand Magee”. “Sinn Féin will not allow the DUP to stall progress in Derry, those days are gone!” Ms. Mullan said.
The news of the relocation to Magee was widely welcomed yesterday. DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton Tweeted: “Welcome news that the School of Health Sciences undergraduate programmes will be relocating to the Magee campus from September 2022.”
He added: “ This represents around an additional 850 students for the campus. A positive step forward for the North West!”