Belfast Telegraph

Ulster University students transferring to Belfast might not get to study there

By John Mulgrew

The transfer of thousands of students to a new Belfast campus could now face further delays amid ongoing issues between Ulster University and site developers.

The move to the new campus will see student numbers in the city increasing from 2,000 to 15,000, as they move from the Jordanstown campus, seven miles outside the city.

News of delays to the second phase of the campus first emerged in 2016.

It was then revealed that an initial deadline of 2018 would be pushed back until 2019.

As recently as last week, when asked about legal proceedings, a university spokeswoman reiterated a statement first issued in November.

"On any large scale construction projects, adjustments to timeframes are to be expected," the university said.

"Our lead contractor's programme identifies delivery of phase two construction works of the new Belfast campus to completion by late 2019, following which our staff and students will begin to occupy the new buildings on campus. 

"Relocation from Jordanstown campus will be phased around the university calendar and operations. Precise timings will be confirmed as we progress through the final stages of the build.

"We look forward to all staff and students being on the new state-of-the-art campus for the first full teaching year from autumn 2020."

Speaking at the end of last year about the delays, UU Students' Union president Kevin McStravock said: "This will impact students who would have been due to begin in 2019 in the Belfast campus. They will now study for that academic year in Jordanstown.

"That will mean for some students they will not get to study in the new campus, which will be disappointing, but adjustments to construction projects of this scale are not out of the ordinary."

The joint venture between Lagan Construction Group and Portuguese firm Somague Group was awarded a £150m contract, part of the overall £250m, for the second phase.

Planning permission for the project was originally granted in 2013 after the then Environment Minister Alex Attwood backed the scheme.

The delays are set to have a knock-on effect, not only on the new intake of students, but also companies building and planning to construct thousands of student accommodation rooms in the city.

Belfast Telegraph

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