Members of the public and organisations across Northern Ireland are being asked for their views on the relocation of Ulster University’s School of Health Sciences, as the consultation re-opens.
These courses could potentially add hundreds of additional students to the Magee campus.
They include physiotherapy, radiography, occupational therapy, podiatry and speech & language therapy.
Now that the medical school has been approved and the school of nursing is based at Magee, it is believed that these courses would be complementary.
In February 2020, Ulster University launched a public consultation on the future location of its School of Health Sciences. The consultation was paused in April when the University reviewed its decision to conduct a full Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA).
The augmented consultation will re-open on 1st September, with the EQIA open for 12 weeks until 24th November and the location consultation running concurrently, but remaining open for a further two weeks, closing on 6th December.
The Health Sciences appraisal document identifies the Magee as the preferred option for undergraduate courses.
It says: "Based on the evidence gathered and presented, the Magee option maximises subject alignment and synergies,
bolstering the potential for interprofessional learning.
"The Magee campus will be the location of the School of Medicine, now recruiting staff and students for 2021 opening following NI Executive approval and ring-fenced funding, and successful progression through the next steps of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) rigorous quality assurance process for new medical schools.
"It is also home for the delivery of undergraduate nursing. Such a mix of disciplines creates the opportunity not only for an
enriched student experience, but also provides the basis for educational interventions designed to enhance clinical outcomes.
"The use of shared infrastructure also provides opportunities and efficiencies across Schools allowing for investment in high-end equipment which will have a positive impact on the quality of the student learning experience and provide staff with the very best teaching equipment.
"This option has the potential to achieve campus sustainability by maximising capital investment in Magee, particularly, with the establishment of the Graduate Entry Medical School .
"This is particularly pertinent given recent pronouncements from Northern Irish politicians in support of the GEMS initiative at the Magee campus.
"There are other synergies with Personalised Medicine and C-TRIC both based in Magee and Altnagelvin.
"The move to the Magee campus will also support economic growth in the North West and fostering of healthy communities within the City and wider environs."
Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University explained: “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.
"Since we first began gathering the views of stakeholders, the landscape for our colleagues, partners and graduates in the health service has changed beyond all recognition.
"Now, more than ever, we are acutely aware of the contribution of our allied health professionals in the context of a health service that faces such enormous challenge in response to COVID-19.
"We sincerely value the perspectives of our many healthcare stakeholders, partners and colleagues and remain committed to gathering as much input as possible through the re-opened public consultation and EQIA process to enable a fully informed and final decision to be made.”
The University’s Coleraine, Magee and Belfast campuses are all potential options under consideration and this consultation is seeking the views of staff, current and prospective students, health service practitioners, education providers, local government representatives and the voluntary and charity sectors.
The University expects to reach and confirm a decision by the end of January 2021. Health Sciences will remain at Jordanstown for the 21/22 academic year to enable sufficient time for transition arrangements to the new location.
Previous submissions made between February and April will be retained as part of the re-opened process. Updated or new submissions can be made by email and online, and in line with public health guidelines, online engagement opportunities will be offered in the autumn.
Full details can be found at https://www.ulster.ac.uk/consultations
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