A decision on whether to move Ulster University’s allied health and health sciences courses to Derry to align with a new Magee medical school has been delayed.
The transfer of these courses which include physiotherapy, medicines management, sport and exercise medicine, podiatry and occupational therapy, amongst others, would attract in excess of 1,300 students, and are deemed vital to Magee expansion.
In January 2018 UU confirmed that the relocation of allied health and health sciences provision from Jordanstown to Coleraine would be paused to enable further consideration of all options.
It was expected that a decision would be taken before the UCAS deadline for NI students on January 15. However, it has now been pushed back to March with all campuses still under consideration.
An Ulster University spokesperson said: “We take seriously the role that we play in providing the skilled health professionals so urgently required to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce and patients.
“Over recent months we have undertaken a wide-ranging stakeholder engagement exercise on the future location of these courses. We have appreciated the constructive and valuable input to this process from a range of stakeholders, including our health sciences staff.
“Further robust analysis and business cases are required for the options under review, in order that a fully informed decision can be made on the way forward. Our Coleraine, Magee and Belfast campuses are all potential locations to be carefully assessed in this review.
“Concluding this review is a priority for the University, and a fully informed decision will be made no later than the second week in March.”
SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin, who recently replaced party leader Colum Eastwood following his election as Foyle MP, has been vocal about the need for Ulster University to demonstrate its long-term commitment to Derry by transferring other healthcare courses to the Magee Campus without delay.
In her previous role as a Derry City & Strabane District Councillor she insisted that health sciences “should be aligned with this city and region.”
Speaking to the Derry News at the weekend, Mrs McLaughlin said: “It is my understanding that the decision making process for the relocation of the Allied Health and Health Sciences courses is due to take place in weeks rather than months.
“These courses are moving out of Jordanstown and the SDLP have been strongly advocating that these courses would be best placed in the Magee Campus.
“The £60m financial package ring fenced for the Graduate Entry Medical School together with financial support for the Magee Expansion from the Irish Government, in my opinion, requires a reciprocal announcement by Ulster University to relocate all Allied Health to Magee in time for the next UCAS listing.”
She continued: “This decision by UU would demonstrate their commitment to the City Region and the University would be well on its way to become an academic medical hub with an attractive offering for both students and leading academics.
“If Ulster University fail to support the growth of Magee in the coming weeks, it will be decision time for all City Stakeholders on what direction we need to follow in order to achieve a full sized Higher Education provision in Northern Ireland’s second City.”
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