Northern Ireland

Ulster University plans to move healthcare degrees to Magee

The Ulster University's Belfast campus building
Image caption Moving undergraduate students to Derry and postgraduates to Belfast is the university's preferred choice

Ulster University has announced plans to move many of its healthcare degrees to its Magee Campus in Londonderry.

However, its preferred option is for postgraduate students in health sciences to study in Belfast.

But in a survey of students and staff the majority wanted to study and work in Belfast. The university is holding a public consultation on the plans.

The school of health sciences is one of the university's largest and is based at the Jordanstown campus.

It educates and trains students for a range of health professions.

These include radiography, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy.

The school has about 800 undergraduates, between 250 and 350 postgraduates a year and more than 60 staff.

Ulster University (UU) initially planned to relocate all the students and staff in health sciences to its Coleraine campus, but those plans have now been abandoned.

Image caption The Magee campus is on Derry's Northland Road

In the consultation's options appraisal for the school, moving undergraduate students to Derry and postgraduates to Belfast is the university's preferred choice.

Moving everything to the Belfast campus or splitting the school between Coleraine and Belfast are the other options in the consultation.

However, placing undergraduates in Magee and postgraduates in Belfast would cost over £7m more than the cost of running the current school in Jordanstown.

In a large staff and student survey, which has already been carried out by UU, the majority said the Belfast campus was where they wanted to study and work.

Out of 62 staff surveyed, only two said they did not want to relocate to Belfast, 17 did not want to relocate to Coleraine and 39 did not want to relocate to Magee.

Similarly among 252 prospective students surveyed more than 70% said they would prefer to study in Belfast, while fewer than 10% said they would prefer to study at Magee.

Among 260 current students in the school who responded to the survey, 180 wanted to move to Belfast with only 39 preferring Magee.

The executive dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University Prof Carol Curran said everyone with an interest should take part in the consultation.

"We take seriously the role that we play in providing the skilled health professionals so urgently required to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce and patients," she said.

"We're committed to ensuring a robust and final decision is made on the location of our School of Health Sciences and have opened a public consultation process to gather as much feedback as possible to inform our decision-making."

The school of health sciences proposals are related to - but separate from - the university's plans for a graduate medical school at Magee.

The consultation will run until 19 April and is available on Ulster University's website.

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