The Department for the Economy has not undertaken any exploratory work on a University for Derry and continues to question the case for expanding provision at Magee.
That’s according to Secretary of State Julian Smith’s report on Derry university provision mandated by Labour Peer Andrew Adonis’ unexpected amendment of the NI (Executive Formation) Act in July.
Mr. Smith’s update had now been presented to the British House of Commons.
It states: “The Government is not aware of any live proposals to establish any new University Facility in Derry/Londonderry but it is aware of the proposals of the existing Ulster University to expand and, separately, to establish a new Graduate Medical School in Derry/Londonderry.”
It refers to Ulster University’s and Derry City & Strabane District Council’s joint 2016 proposal for a scaled expansion of Magee to 9,400 students (full-time equivalent) from its 4,062 base.
But the report warns that DfE continues to have concerns about the cost.
“The proposal presented had significant funding consequences from a capital infrastructure perspective (c.£300m) as well as significant [sic] and from a resource funding implication/perspective.
“The proposal would also require HE to be placed on a sustainable footing, comparable with England,” it maintains.
There would also be “resource grant consequences of funding the proposed additional places at UU and North West Regional College and associated student support costs (c.£111m)”.
And DfE wrote to Ulster University in February 2019 and is, according to the report, still awaiting answers to a series of questions.
These include “a more accurate assessment of capital need, which was very theoretical in the original proposal and created a significant cost requirement” and the “rationale for locating additional higher education places in the Magee Campus, as opposed to other geographical locations with further and more detailed explanation in relation to sub-regional economic benefits.”
Secretary of State, Julian Smith, presented an update on university provision in Derry at Westminster this week.
‘The proposal presented had significant funding consequences’