Derry & Strabane Council recently wrote to the minister urging delivery on the Magee expansion commitment contained within New Decade, New Approach.
The New Decade, New Approach deal which saw the restoration of institutions at Stormont in January 2020 stated that ‘the Executive will bring forward proposals for the development and expansion of the Ulster University campus at Magee College, including the necessary increase in maximum student numbers to realise the 10,000 student campus target and a Graduate Entry Medical School’.
The ministerial response stated: “I am committed to working with Ulster University on the potential expansion of provision across all of its campuses and will assess any proposals put forward by the University.”
Addressing the response at last week’s meeting of Council, Cllr Farrell said: “So, we’ve got a three line response from the new minister, but it’s two fingers up to the people of Derry.
“We stated several things in our motion and the key elements of that were that the 10,000 student target at Magee must be delivered, expansion proposals must be produced immediately and Magee expansion must be included as a Programme for Government commitment.
“And in his response he states that he supports expansion across all campuses of Ulster University and will assess any expansion proposals produced by the university.
“I’m sorry, but that’s a disgraceful response from the new economy minister. It’s apparent that he is tone-deaf, like his predecessors, to the needs of this city.
“New Decade, New Approach, which his party seemingly support, has a specific commitment on Magee expansion and doesn’t mention expansion at Coleraine or Belfast, at all. But he supports expansion at those two campuses too.
“And New Decade, New Approach doesn’t say that Ulster University will bring forward expansion proposals – it says the Executive will do that.”
Cllr Farrell concluded: “I think it would be useful if the minister actually read the document, but he probably has and is intent on trolling this Council.
“So, I’m really disappointed in the minister’s response.
“It’s abundantly clear that he has no intention of delivering for this city.”