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Course cuts ‘causing irreparable damage to Magee’, warns Pat Ramsey

By Donna Deeney

Published 23/10/2015

Psychology courses are the latest to be moved away from the Magee campus by University of Ulster chiefs
Psychology courses are the latest to be moved away from the Magee campus by University of Ulster chiefs

Moving psychology courses away from Magee campus will cause irreparable damage to the future of third level education in Londonderry, according to the SDLP.

Employment and Learning spokesman Pat Ramsey MLA has appealed to Ulster University to reconsider its decision to relocate psychology courses to its Coleraine campus as part of its restructuring due to budget cuts.

The university revealed last month that the imposed £8.6m cuts to its budget would also mean the sociology department moving to the Jordanstown campus.

Mr Ramsey said the loss of the psychology course at Magee would mean student capacity never returning to the same level.

He met with UU Vice Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, in Stormont where he asked him to review whether the key course could be kept in Derry.

Mr Ramsey said: “While I sympathise with the university, as it has had these hard decisions forced on it by the DUP/Sinn Fein budget, I question the rationale of targeting this course on economic reasons — particularly when the psychology department returns a profit of hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum to the central funds of the university.

“While the Vice Chancellor stated that course consolidation is a factor in the decision to relocate psychology away from Magee, I would argue that with the schools of nursing and social work both at Magee, psychology is a natural fit.

“My main hope, however, is that the wealth of work and collaboration the department has completed in terms of internationally recognised research will not be lost to a region beset by mental health problems.

“The department has assisted in developing a community response to the post conflict mental health issues which are all too prevalent in the North West.”

Professor Nixon said no single campus could be protected from the £8.6m budget cuts, but insisted that, unlike Coleraine and Jordanstown, Magee’s student number will increase slightly.

He explained: “At the end of this consolidation the percentage of the student base at Magee will increase from about 17.6% to about 19% and at the other two campuses it will decrease.

“Any expansion at the Magee campus remains subject to a number of factors, including demand from students, government releasing student numbers, available budget and the delivery of key infrastructure commitments by stakeholders across the region.”

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