Minister must honour Magee election pledge - UU vice chancellor

University of Ulster's Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett
University of Ulster's Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett

The vice-chancellor of the University of Ulster has said the north’s universities minister must honour his party’s election pledge and bring more student places to Magee.

Professor Richard Barnett said Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry “has the power to make good on his party’s election promises, and I call on him to do so.”

Earlier this week, an Assembly motion that could have granted Derry’s Magee campus an extra 1000 undergraduate places was defeated by 49 votes to 27 at Stormont.

The Alliance Party minister said extra student places secured for next year have to be shared among the north’s higher education facilities.

Professor Barnett says he is disappointed that “the Minister has said he is unable to allocate more than a smattering of additional places to Magee.”

“Given the likely upsurge in applications to Northern Ireland universities from Northern Ireland domiciled students who may have considered studying in England, Scotland and Wales but are now likely to be deterred by the charge of £9,000 in fees by the majority of universities there, this limited increase in places will provide little relief.”

“The Minister also acknowledged during the Assembly debate the University of Ulster had made a strong case for expanding Magee and stressed his party remained committed to the goal of Magee expansion. So why not do it? The NI Executive must prioritise Magee expansion for the long term good of the whole region.”

Magee Provost and Dean of Academic Development, Professor Deirdre Heenan, supported the vice-chancellor’s call.

She said that in the Stormont debate they’d heard much about how the Minister needed to spread his small allocation of additional undergraduate places around all Higher Education institutions in Northern Ireland

“But only one institution has actually asked for more places: only one institution has a bid on the table: – and that is the University of Ulster at Magee,” she says.