SDLP Foyle Westminster candidate Mark Durkan has welcomed the recent approval of £11m for the development of the new teaching block at Magee but has said it should only be the start of wider expansion at the Derry campus.
Mr Durkan has also said he remains fully committed to the goal of 10,000 full-time equivalent student places by 2020, and will continue to challenge the Executive to deliver on its promises.
He said: “The recent approval of £11m for the new teaching and learning block should not be confused with the wider case for expansion at Magee.
“We must continue to press the Minister, the Executive and the university to advance the funds needed to facilitate the expansion of our city campus – not least in terms of student numbers.
“When the SDLP held the Finance and DEL ministries (in the past) we budgeted for development at Magee and NWRC, unlike the current government term. Indeed, no bids for Magee were turned down then or divested to other sites.
“We also instigated the Integrated Development Fund, which was the key funder for the Centre for Excellence in Intelligent Systems (Robotics Centre) at Magee, and have consistently lobbied for government and EU funding and other support for build, facilities and course expansion.
“As the party who secured the Ebrington site transfer and kept Fort George for strategic development, we put university development among the options for both sites, which was not supported by others in subsequent plans.
“We also ensured, against resistance, that Old Foyle College and Aberfoyle sites were vested by Derry City Council as landbank.
“We have always stood strong on Magee expansion and will continue do so until we have a university that meets our city’s needs.
“I therefore remain fully committed to the goal of 10,000 full-time equivalent student places by 2020, and will continue to challenge the Executive to deliver on its promises.”