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Call for 2,000 extra places at University of Ulster’s Magee campus to aid local students

By Brendan McDaid

The Executive is today being urged to provide an extra 2,000 undergraduate places for the University of Ulster’s Magee campus from next year to help protect local students from soaring fees in Britain.

Business and education lobbyists from the north west said that the extra student numbers would help address the expected surge in applications for places at Northern Ireland’s universities when tuition fees jump to an average of £8,400 in England in 2012.

The plea was made by the University for Derry (U4D) group, with the business case for the expansion at Magee already in the hands of Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry.

The university’s expansion plans are dependent on the Executive lifting the cap on university places.

U4D chairman Padraig Canavan said: “We must increase the supply of undergraduate places in Northern Ireland to meet the inevitable surge of demand here once tuition fees rise in England and Wales.

“We appeal to ministers to recognise this inevitable increase in demand, to raise the student cap in response to this and to allocate all additional undergraduate places to the University of Ulster’s Magee campus.

“One option that ministers will consider will be to raise the student cap by 2,000 places, with an extra 1,000 students each in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry.

“However, it is only by allocating all of this possible increase to Magee that the maximum short and long-term economic advantage will be achieved.

“In doing so, executive ministers would be making the biggest step forward possible for the implementation of the city’s regeneration plan.”

Factfile

From 2012 fees in England will range from £6,000 to £9,000, the full amount of which can be covered by a loan. In Wales fees will range from £4,000 to £9,000. Welsh students will be able to take out loans to the current value and the Welsh Assembly will cover the increase. In Scotland, Scottish domiciled students will not have to pay tuition fees.

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