Padraig Canavan, chair of U4D (University for Derry), has responded to Stephen Farry’s comments regarding proposals for the expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus being placed on hold because of the current budget crisis.
He said: “U4D – University for Derry - has been campaigning for several years for the expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus. We have been surprised how difficult it has been to persuade ministers and senior civil servants of the need to expand university provision in Northern Ireland and specifically the need to expand university provision in Derry-Londonderry. We have repeatedly met resistance at ministerial and senior civil service level, despite the obvious need to expand university provision for the sake of the economy of Northern Ireland and, in particular, Derry-Londonderry.
“In that context, the latest comments by minister Farry are disappointing, but not surprising. It could, in fact, be regarded as good news as the implication of the minister’s comments are that if the current impasse over welfare reform is resolved then the plans for Magee expansion will be supported by minister Farry and will then be implemented. We hope this is the implied message he is conveying.
“We thank those politicians and the wider public who have vocally supported the call for the expansion of Magee and urge them to not be deflected or disheartened by this latest setback.
“While the matter of welfare reform is very important, so, too, is the regeneration of Northern Ireland’s second city and ensuring that the effects of the improvement in the Northern Ireland economy are felt across Northern Ireland. To achieve this, we need substantially more graduates – both in Derry-Londonderry and in Northern Ireland as a whole. To this end the business case for the expansion of Magge must be completed and the Executive – or the UK Government, if the impasse leads to collapse of the Executive - needs to prioritise this accordingly.”