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GSP committee given detailed presentation on university expansion options

08 January 2020

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee today were given a detailed presentation on a broad scoping exercise and options appraisal that was compiled in response to a motion passed at Full Council in July seeking Council to explore all options for university expansion.

 

Members at the meeting were informed that as part of this scoping exercise, the Council’s Senior Economist engaged with lobby groups, economists, business leaders and demographers and that the scoping and options analysis took into consideration existing data and information sources, which are relevant to university expansion in the City.

 

University enrolment in Northern Ireland, enrolments in other selected cities and the impact it has on population growth was presented at the meeting and details of the numbers of students leaving Northern Ireland – and particularly the City and District - to study elsewhere was highlighted alongside the key interventions and initiatives implemented in recent years to encourage university expansion.

 

Consideration was also given to the impact of the Maximum Student Numbers (MaSN) restriction on expansion and a range of options were presented to members for consideration.

 

Among the items discussed was the need to take into consideration the legislative, fiscal and operational issues such as how degrees are conferred, securing and capital and suitable locations/sites, MaSN, revenue funding and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations.

 

The presentation also included how research and scoping will reinforce the primacy of the MaSN cap, capital funding and ministerial decision-making as key enablers for expansion in the City.

 

Members outlining the importance of university provision in the city, recognised the need to secure commitment from Ulster University about their future plans for investment and expansion in the city.

 

The meeting concluded with formal proposals to invite the interim acting vice chancellor and other senior management representatives from the University to an early special meeting of Council.

 

A further proposal to further engage with all interested parties in relation to all the options available for education provision including the Derry University group was also agreed at the meeting.