Ulster University must prioritise courses that ‘benefit economy’

Ulster University's Magee campus in Derry.
Ulster University's Magee campus in Derry.

Derry’s Chamber of Commerce has urged the Ulster University to prioritise courses that support the economy.

President of the Chamber Gerry Kindlon said: “Universities, the skills they generate, their research and their own activities lie at the heart of the modern economy.

“Derry already has an economy that is in dire straits. The last thing we need is for a reduction in the skills output locally.”

Mr. Kindlon spoke out after UU revealed it was cutting 210 jobs this year and 1,200 student places over the next three years due to a reduction in its funding.

The move is in response to an £8.6m cut in the subsidy received from the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL).

Professor Alastair Adair, the university’s acting vice-chancellor, blamed the cuts on the Northern Ireland Executive.

Gerry Kindlon wants Ulster University to prioritise courses that “benefit the economy” when it makes its decisions on where to make the cuts to student numbers, courses and staff.

“We very much wish that no cuts were being made,” he added. “ But, recognising that the decision to cut has already been taken, we believe the University must do what it can to protect activities that support the economy.

“We, therefore, call on it to protect Magee and the courses of greatest economic relevance.”

Meanwhile, the University for Derry (U4D) lobby group has called on Ulster University to protect the Magee campus when it makes its cuts to staff, student numbers and courses.

U4D chair Padraig Canavan said: “Northern Ireland already exports a university worth of students per year. The cuts underway to our university sector will continue to hollow out our undergraduate population - and this simply hollows out our future in very fundamental societal and economic ways.

“This is what has been happening in an accelerated way in Derry for decades with the resultant dire economic consequences. In light of this we ask the Executive to support proper financing for Northern Ireland higher education and for Ulster University in the face of these cuts, to maintain current numbers at Magee.

“Magee campus is essential to the economic well-being of Derry-Londonderry. We urge Ulster University to protect Magee as it implements the cuts.”