Derry City and Strabane District Council, in partnership with Ulster University, has today submitted its revised outline business plan for the expansion of Ulster University's Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry.
The plan outlines the preferred option for expansion of student numbers and other wider considerations, with the primary objective of reinforcing and growing Derry~Londonderry's reputation as a vibrant University city.
The plan was prepared by independent consultants, PACEC (Public And Corporate Economic Consultants) who were appointed by the Council in 2014.
The intention is that by 2025 the overall provision at the Magee campus will rise to 9,400 full time equivalent students. This includes increasing full time undergraduate places by 2,636 bringing the total to 6000 by 2024. A partnership with the North West Regional College will achieve an additional 750 full time undergraduate places by 2024.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Chairperson of the Strategy Board, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said: "We have a truly world-class, internationally focused institution at the heart of our city. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that it flourishes and is accessible. This is an opportunity to build upon the transformational journey that the city and district has been on over the last number of years.
"The economic and political climate has changed considerably since targets were set in the One Plan. It is right and appropriate that we challenge the viability of those targets and ensure that they are aligned with the current strategic priorities for the city and district and are in keeping with the work we are doing on the evolving Community Plan. They must be relevant, ambitious and achievable.
John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council said: "There are a number of options detailed in the revised plan. It recommends what we believe to be the most effective and financially viable option to improve access into higher education and maximise impact on the city and district, it's citizens and wider region.
"It aims to fully inform decision making by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the NI Executive in relation to both sustainable funding and the current Maximum Student number cap (MaSN)."
Ulster University Vice-Chancellor and President Paddy Nixon said: "We recognise our responsibility as a civic University. It is essential that we sustain the positive impact that we have within communities and help address deprivation and social need.
"Ulster University has always remained committed to expansion at the Magee campus. We recognise the impact this will have for the city's regeneration and growth. However, within a broader context, we cannot continue to maximise our economic impact if student numbers continue to decline as a direct result of funding cuts.
"We must attract and retain the best and brightest talent. If student numbers are not addressed there is a risk that other Executive policies, including the reduction of Corporation Tax, will be undermined. This reflects industry concerns around the quality and quantity of a skilled workforce, particularly in relation to STEM subjects.
"Long-term sustainable funding provision for students and infrastructure investment is also essential to deliver these ambitions. Expansion at Magee will not happen in isolation. It will require a concentrated, collaborative effort by all stakeholders. With these building blocks in place we will help this University city to realise its full potential.
"Together, we will play our part in tackling the core issues that stifle growth, like educational attainment. We want to encourage a culture of participation and engagement that will help the city to thrive."