‘University focus has switched to Belfast’

Professor Gerry McKenna.
Professor Gerry McKenna.

A former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster has suggested that the university has shifted its focus from development at Magee to a “huge commitment” to its campus in Belfast.

In an article in today’s Journal, Professor Gerry McKenna says that Magee took major steps forward during what he called the ‘innovation phase’ at the university, both in terms of research centres and new buildings.

But he suggests it now seems that priorities have changed, with Belfast very much to the fore.

He writes; “Over the past few years UU has embarked upon a new and different phase involving, among other things, a huge long-term commitment of its future financial and other resources to Belfast.”

Although Professor McKenna adds that it’s perhaps inevitable that priorities for the university would change over time, his comments are likely to re-ignite the debate over the pace of development at Magee.

Professor McKenna was Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster from 1999-2005, and President from 2000-2006.

One senior academic at the university told the ‘Journal’; “His comments simply hit the nail on the head. The development of Magee is critical to this city and the university is playing lip service to it. Money is being sucked out of Derry for a new campus in Belfast that no one wants or can afford.”

A local businessman, who didn’t want to be named, commented; “The big question is why, when you go on Ulster’s website and look at their strategic plans for Magee, these never seem to go beyond the 1,000 extra MaSN and another 1,000 or so non-MaSN places. Ulster signed up to the aspiration of 9,400 students in the One Plan, so why is this not reflected in its own strategic plan? Why won’t Ulster submit a business plan to DEL for expansion beyond the 1,000 extra MaSN?”

See Professor McKenna’s article on page 33 of today’s Journal.