Magee to close university creche

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The University of Ulster’s plans to close its childcare facilities at Magee has caused concern among parents and politicians in Derry.

It was announced yesterday that the University of Ulster is planning to close university managed childcare facilities at its Magee with the loss of up to 14 jobs.

The university is also planning to close its crèche facilities at Jordanstown.

University authorities have said the decision to close the facility was taken because the number of students using the crèche has fallen and added that it has been running at a loss.

Announcing the move, a University of Ulster spokesperson said; “This is because students are not using the facilities in the same numbers due to changing lifestyles.

“The University has had to sustain a significant deficit annually and it is no longer viable in these financially constrained times to operate University run facilities.”

The spokesperson said the University remains committed to supporting students with children.

“Under the proposal the University will continue to financially support childcare for those students who are most in need irrespective of where it is provided,” the spokesperson said.

One parent who uses the crèche at Magee said he was alarmed by the announcement. “This is a vital service. It was under threat a few years ago but was saved after a campaign and the involvement of unions and politicians. Hopefully there will be some sort of reprieve this time too because this is an essential service for my family and for many others out there,” he said.

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said she will be meeting Magee Provost Professor Deirdre Heenan to discuss the plans.

“My constituency office received a number of calls on Wednesday by people concerned at speculation that the Crèche facility at the University of Ulster Magee campus could close, resulting in up to fourteen jobs losses and the loss of a valuable service there.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Provost at Magee Professor Deirdre Heenan to ascertain the full facts to let both staff and users of this facility know what is happening,” she said.

Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey also said he would be seeking a meeting with Professor Heenan to discuss his concerns at the plans.

Trade union Unison have also said they will protest against the University of Ulster’s proposals and described the crèche as a vital service for students with children.