Council’s concern over UU cutbacks

Magee Ulster University campus
Magee Ulster University campus

Derry & Strabane Council has passed a motion expressing concern over Ulster University plans to cut 1,200 student places and 210 staff jobs.

A motion tabled by SDLP Councillor John Boyle proposed that council air its concerns at cuts stemming from the Department of Employment and Learning’s budget cut, and “reaffirms its commitment to the One Plan targets of expanding to 9,400 Full Time Equivalents by 2020”, while ensuring Magee student numbers are ring-fenced.

Colr. Boyle- himself a former UU student- said there was a very real concern that the plans for Magee may be sacrificed due to the cutbacks.

“We don’t want to lose one place,” he said, warning that a “two step forward, one step back approach” would only lead to more stagnation for Magee.

The motion was amended at the suggestion of Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper to include calling on the Minister Stephen Farry and the UU to respond positively to the business case for Magee expansion, while apportioning blame to the Tory government for the austerity cuts.

He said the Magee business case has been on the Minister’s desk since June 25th.

“The Minister has thus far refused to publicly endorse the business case or bring it to the Executive table,” Colr, Cooper said. “In addition the UU has not produced any tangible response to the business case by factoring it into their investment plans whether in the short or long term.

“Indeed they have been very quick to announce that they are not willing to purchase the Foyle lands for Magee expansion which flies in the face of their proactive approach to drawing down loans to secure lands in York Street to allow their expansion plans to progress in Belfast.”

He also called on UU to use some of its “substantial reserves” to protect staff numbers at Magee.