Eamonn McCann says the decision to move Irish History from Magee to Coleraine “made no educational sense” and part of a growing case of evidence that business considerations now trump social and academic considerations when it comes to third level development across Northern Ireland.
The People Before Profit Stormont candidate reiterated his call for the establishment of a University of Derry at the Magee and Ebrington sites after the Queen’s University of Belfast announced a £50 million investment programme over five years.
“Derry is relegated to second-class status by Ulster University and the political establishment. How much more evidence do we need that the neglect of Magee and of Derry will continue until there is drastic change in the organisation of the university sector and in the extent to which Derry issues generally are taken seriously,” said Mr McCann.
“Both of the North’s universities - Queen’s and Ulster University - are now set for significant expansion in Belfast while all Magee gets is annual promises and no action.
“Given what’s happened over the years, the case for a separate university - the ‘University of Derry’ - grows ever stronger.
“The expansion of Queen’s and Ulster University in Belfast is not being driven by educational or social factors. If educational and social considerations counted, the transfer of Irish History from Derry to Coleraine would never have been contemplated.
“That move in particular made no educational sense whatever and shouldn’t have been allowed to happen without at least an almighty row.
“The Queen’s announcement also confirms the extent to which our existing universities are now governed by business rather that educational or social considerations.
“If educational and social factors were decisive, Magee would have been top of the list for expansion, instead of lagging behind and being the subject of successive cutbacks.”
“Many long-time university campaigners in Derry have now come to the conclusion that the facilities which already exist in Derry - primarily Magee and Ebrington - should be handed over to a new North West-based body which would take into account both the needs of education and the crying need of this region.”