Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

What 250m will mean for Magee

By Freya McClements
BBC News

University Vice Chancellor Richard Barnett, Foyle MP Mark Durkan, Mayor of Derry Gerard Diver, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness at the launch of Magee College's 250m expansion plan
The launch of the 250m plan at Magee on Monday

Two thousand new students, two new faculties, and the physical expansion of its campus... just some of the projects contained in the University of Ulster's 250m plan for its Magee campus.

Everyone from the deputy first minister to the mayor of Derry was at the launch in the university's Foyle Arts Building on Monday - where it was hailed as a good news story for the university, the city, and the region.

Professor Jim Allen, the Provost of Magee, said it was an exciting time for the university.

"Universities aren't just about buildings - this is about 2,000 new students, the staff that goes with that, and everything such expansion will bring.

"It will easily add 10m to the local economy each year," he said.

"These plans will take some time to achieve, but they are achievable."

The key to the expansion is the removal of a government cap on the number of full-time students at Magee.

Areas for expansion at Magee
2,000 additional students
Creation of an Institute of Sustainable Technologies
Creation of an Institute of Health and Wellbeing
Expansion of Computing, Electronics and Software
Expansion of Creative Technologies and Animation
Expansion in business and professional services
Construction of new university buildings

Subject to government approval, the university aims to begin the enrolment of the additional students from the academic year 2010-11.

"The proposal has already been submitted to the Department of Employment and Learning, so as soon as they give their approval we can start work on this process," said Prof Allen.

The plans will also require the physical expansion of the university onto land currently occupied by Foyle and Londonderry College.

This will allow for the construction of two new faculties, in Sustainable Technologies and Health and Wellbeing.

Areas of expertise will include mental health, primary community care and renewable energy.

The mayor of Derry, Gerard Diver, said the relevance of such courses were key to the success of the project.

"As a former student of Magee myself, I can remember a time when it had less than 1,500 students, and now we're talking four times that.

"What's critical here is the range of courses that is being talked about.

"These are areas where we can make that important link between employers and the skills that we're able to provide," said Mr Diver.

Map of university expansion plans
The university wants to expand onto new sites in the city.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan agreed.

"This is a good news day for the city, and we want to build on this to make sure this is part of a good news decade for Derry.

"The decision shows that this is thinking for the long-term. It means Magee can continue to contribute very positively to Derry's economic growth in the future," he said.

The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said that amid difficult economic times the university had to look to the future.

"We need ambition, we need innovation, and the universities are at the forefront of this.

"These are indeed exciting times, and even in the context of an economic downturn this could be a very exciting year for the north west," said Mr McGuinness.

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