Ulster University Derry campus taskforce could be 'critical' to achieving 10,000 student places

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Derry City and Strabane District Councillors have praised the establishment of new taskforce for Ulster University’s Magee Campus.

It follows news that the Economy Minister, Conor Murphy, has launched the taskforce to develop and oversee an action plan to expand the Derry’s Campus to 10,000 students.

At the March Full Council Meeting on Wednesday, Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy proposed that the Council writes to the Minister “welcoming this intervention and reinforcing out ambition for the growth of the university”.

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Additionally, the Council will write to taskforce chair, Stephen Kelly, requesting a taskforce presentation “around any plans developed”.

The new taskforce has been set up towards securing the 10,000 student places previously committed to for Derry's Ulster University campus.The new taskforce has been set up towards securing the 10,000 student places previously committed to for Derry's Ulster University campus.
The new taskforce has been set up towards securing the 10,000 student places previously committed to for Derry's Ulster University campus.

Councillor Duffy said the Council had recently seen “very positive news stories, particularly around some of the City Deal projects”.

“I think the taskforce itself has fantastic people attached who have knowledge, skills and an understanding of the city and district’s needs and a drive to deliver a university it deserves,” Colr. Duffy said.

“I really look forward to seeing the plan and how we can deliver on it, and I think the university’s a key economic driver for the North West and the taskforce is a great step forward.”

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People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin said there was “no doubt the taskforce is welcome”.

He said: “It could be a critical step to ensure Magee becomes a 10,000-student campus as soon as possible.”

However, he warned that there had been many taskforces in the past that “haven’t led to the goal they were set up for”.

“This an election year and this can’t be about a report in the Summer and December. Now there’s Government intervention, people want to see an action plan of date, of when buildings are going up, and when the 10,000-student target’s going to be reached.”

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UUP Alderman Derek Hussey voiced concerns about the “wider implication of the numbers coming”, such as increased need for student accommodation.

“That has to be addressed and I don’t know if that lies within the remit of the taskforce,” Alderman Hussey said. “But I would hope it does and that the appropriate infrastructure will be there.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter