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Ulster University in bid to ease student fears over campus delay, insisting it's on track

By John Mulgrew

Students are being told that a deadline for the completion of Ulster University's new Belfast campus is still on course - despite claims it faces a three-year delay.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that the £250m campus may not open until 2022 amid ongoing disputes and legal actions against construction firms.

The scheme is already around a year behind schedule.

Ulster University had planned for a first intake of students next year, and for the campus to be completed in 2020.

Kevin McStravock, UU Students' Union president, said it was crucial that people were kept up to date with progress on the campus, which will see thousands of student and courses move from the Jordanstown.

"I have been in communication with senior management to discuss it with them and they have assured me they are working with developers and 2020 is on the cards," he said. "They are still communicating with us, and will make us aware if there are further updates. It's a priority that students have clarity, and know what is happening, and have the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders.

"We have already hosted a Q&A with students and we are planning to do a further Q&A to engage. We are focusing on the here and now, and any further updates or slips in time, we will address that when it comes."

DUP MLA and former Education Minister Peter Weir said he hoped the issues are "resolved as soon as possible".

Yesterday this newspaper revealed that Lagan Construction and its partner Somague, which have been contracted to build the campus, have written to the university to warn it that work will now likely take until 2022, three years past the original 2019 target.

It's also believed Ulster University has stopped the builder from going public with its concerns about the second phase of construction at York Street.

The university is taking High Court action against Lagan Construction and Somague, and has also begun legal proceedings against original contractor Farrans Sisk in relation to initial foundation work carried out on the second phase of the development.

In its response to the latest claims, a spokeswoman for Ulster University said: "On any large and complex capital project, adjustments to timeframes are to be expected.

"Whilst any delay is disappointing, it is not uncommon given the scale of our development."

Belfast Telegraph

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