Ulster University says student cap must go and reiterates medical school and Magee expansion commitments, following Adonis intervention

Ulster University has said the cap in student numbers imposed and maintained by previous Executives must go and reiterated its commitment to the delivery of a medical school in Derry and the expansion of Magee College.

The university was responding to Labour peer Andrew Adonis' criticism of third level education policy in the North in the British House of Lords on Tuesday evening when he said the lack of a stand-alone Derry university was a major "human rights" issue.

Magee College.

Magee College.

An Ulster University spokesperson said: “The cap on student numbers and the currently unsustainable funding model for higher education in Northern Ireland continue to impede the sector and student opportunities locally.

"Without a functioning Executive, these challenges and limitations persist. The continuing numbers of students leaving to study in GB and not returning to NI is an exodus of our talented sons and daughters and exportation of the skills vital to sustain and build our local NI economy.

“As Northern Ireland’s civic university, we are deeply committed to our multi-campus operation, which comes at an additional cost of around £15m each year, and for which we receive no additional funding.

"Each campus offers a unique student experience and our regional distribution enables Ulster to stimulate the intellectual, economic, social and cultural lives of communities across Northern Ireland."

Pointing to recent significant investments at Magee College Ulster University said it was fully committed to the expansion of third level capacity in Derry.

“At our Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry we work closely with Derry City and Strabane District Council and other educational and industry partners to realise the full ambitions of this vibrant university city.

"Across health sciences, arts and humanities, business and computing and engineering, we continue to build on our academic strengths that are important for the region’s growth; ensuring that this diverse expertise across world class research and progressive student learning works hard for the benefit of all in the city region.

“Our recent significant investments in teaching, research and student learning facilities, including a state-of-the-art £11m teaching centre, signal our ambition for higher education in the city and pave the way for enhanced future capacity at Magee," the spokesperson said.

And a medical school in Derry is vital, not only for the university but for the health service, it added.

“Our commitment to establishing a Graduate Entry Medical School is a bid to address the challenges of a healthcare system at breaking point.

"We have taken all possible steps within our control to establish the graduate entry medical school and our business case has been taken as far as possible, to prepare the ground for the required political decision on funding. All other elements of this project have been, and remain, firmly on track. The pivotal funding decision is all that remains, in order to take the next steps.”