Northern Ireland

Magee campus, Londonderry: No bid for funding to expand before 2016

Magee College
Image caption A business case on the Magee expansion had been due for publication this month

The minister for employment and learning has said it will be at least 2016 before he will bid for funding to expand the University of Ulster's Magee campus in Londonderry.

Last month, Dr Stephen Farry said he was shelving the plans because his department faced cuts of £34m.

He said the development would be delayed "for the indefinite future".

But Sinn Féin's Maeve McLaughlin urged the minister to ensure the project becomes a "departmental priority".

Speaking during a debate in the assembly on Tuesday, Dr Farry said he would now scrutinise the business case for expansion, but insisted people had to face facts.

"I am sympathetic to the potential further expansion of the Magee campus of the University of Ulster, but I cannot be expected to both cut public spending and to increase it at the same time, within the context of higher education," he said.

'Critical catalyst'

He added: "My department will scrutinise any business case received in order to be in a position to make any bid in relation to the 2016-2020 budget period.

"Any bids to the executive for additional resources would only be viable once financial circumstances are different."

However, Ms McLaughlin of Sinn Féin said the expansion of Magee was "a critical catalyst" for the regeneration of the city.

"The expansion of the university at Magee is not only crucial for Derry, but would also benefit the entire north and it was heartening to see MLAs from other constituencies taking part in the debate," she said.

A business case was due for publication this month.

The University of Ulster has previously said it was disappointed with the decision to shelve the plan.

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