06/10/2009

Ramsey Urges University To Back Derry

The City of Derry is being left behind in the race for better higher educational facilities.

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has said the University of Ulster needs to make immediate investment in its Derry campus or he claimed the area risks being left behind in development.

Mr Ramsey, (pictured) who speaks for the SDLP on employment and learning, said: "Given the recent announcement of investment on a £7.6m sports centre for Coleraine Campus, people in Derry will be right to question the University of Ulster's commitment to development here.

"The university did not make a similar announcement about investment in the Derry campus," he said, slamming what the university authorities said were "difficulties with the acquisition of suitable land close to the Magee campus".

The SDLP man continued: "The University of Ulster has been unable to resolve the land issue at that site for some time now and it has become a barrier to development.

"People are saying that if the university was serious about development in Derry, it would be aggressively resolving the issues on that site or seeking an alternative location, and there are many alternatives.

"This comes on the heels of a previous announcement of a £250m investment in a new campus in Belfast to be built over the next five years.
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"That announcement was made at the same time as the University of Ulster announced that the Magee campus would be grown to 6,000 over 25 years rather than the previously announced 10,000 students," he fumed.

"Derry has the highest unemployment figures and the worst levels of deprivation of any city in these islands.

"In order to change that we need to have a substantial knowledge base in Derry with a substantial university at its heart," he said.

"If the University of Ulster is not prepared to invest heavily, and invest soon in Derry, it should move over and allow an independent university to make the necessary investments here."

The University of Ulster has announced it is to build a £7.6m sports centre on its Coleraine campus.

The university said it will offer indoor training facilities for soccer, gaelic games and rugby, with a synthetic playing surface planned.

It is proposed that work will start next year, with completion in 2011.

University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett, said its aim was to create "world-class sports facilities on our campuses that will enable Ulster athletes to compete and win at the highest levels of international sport".

"Our High Performance Centre at Jordanstown was a major milestone in the university's sports development and this exciting announcement we are making for the Coleraine campus today marks the next step in that journey," he said.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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