Magee won’t expand unless number of uni students in NI is increased, says SDLP's Rory Farrell

Derry SDLP councillor Rory Farrell says NI Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, “must commit to Magee expansion” by increasing the current cap on student numbers at the local university campus.
Magee CollegeMagee College
Magee College

Earlier this year, Colr. Farrell tabled a motion calling on the Economy Minister to “make the necessary adjustments to the Maximum Student Numbers for exclusive use in Derry to allow planned expansion to become a reality”.

The Maximum Student Numbers (MaSN) is a cap set by the Department for the Economy which controls the number of undergraduate places available at Queen’s and Ulster University for Northern Irish students and those from the EU outside the UK.

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Council received correspondence from the minister in July which stated: “In response to the Council’s motion calling for action from me to increase the maximum student number for exclusive use in the North West, I would point out that, whilst my Department determines an annual maximum student number allocation for the universities, it is the decision of each institution, as autonomous bodies, to allocate those places where they deem appropriate.”

In response, Colr. Farrell said: “We had a university motion back in February and we’ve now received a response from the Economy Minister.

“We asked in our motion for the Economy Minister to make the necessary adjustments to the Maximum Student Numbers for exclusive use in Derry and she said that she cannot do that.

“But she has conveniently swerved the wider issue which is that we need the student cap to be increased by about five or six thousand for Magee to achieve the 10,000 student target.

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“I’m disappointed that the minister did not address that at all.”

Colr. Farrell added: “I know the minister probably thinks that I have an unhealthy obsession with her and I know that we have invited her a number of times to come to this council to speak about regional balance.

“I am asking that at that meeting, whenever it happens, that Maximum Student Numbers is on the agenda because Magee isn’t going to be expanded unless the number of university students that are allowed in the North is increased substantially,” concluded Colr. Farrell.