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18 Jan 2022

Additional university students should be accommodated in Derry's city centre, says Foyle MLA McLaughlin

Sinead McLaughlin

Sinéad McLaughlin: "Locating new student accommodation close to the city centre would provide a real and much needed boost to our commercial sectors"

SDLP Foyle MLA, Sinéad McLaughlin, has urged Ulster University Vice Chancellor, Paul Bartholomew, to provide more living space for Derry students.

In a letter to Mr Bartholomew, Ms McLaughlin writes that students at the University's Magee Campus in Derry, should be accommodated close to the city centre.

She argues that the new accommodation for the incoming undergraduates would be of immense benefit to the retail and hospitality sectors of Derry if students were resident close to the city's heart.

The student pound could help to kickstart the local economy – more so given the effects the pandemic has had on Derry's businesses.

In the letter, Ms McLaughlin writes: “Our city will benefit substantially from the intake of new students. That benefit will increase even further if the new accommodation needed for them is located in or close to the city centre.

“More specifically, if students live between campus and city centre this will have significant positive impact on the commercial heart of the city, through its retail and hospitality sectors. I need hardly remind you of the hard times they have suffered over the last two years.

“It is essential that core institutions such as the university work together with the public and private sectors, in order to maximise the combined impact.

“I suggest this would in this instance be best achieve by providing student accommodation where it will have the most economic impact, which would be close of Derry's city centre.

“Moreover, this would provide the best student experience by giving students easier access to the benefits of urban life, with close proximity to retail facilities and evening activities.”

Explaining why she has taken it upon herself to write to Ulster University, Ms McLaughlin added: “I am urging the Ulster University Vice Chancellor, its Council and Senate to consider the potential benefits of their actions to the wider city. Our retail and hospitality sectors have suffered terribly through the pandemic, and locating new student accommodation close to the city centre would provide a real and much needed boost to our commercial sectors.

“This, in turn, would help to safeguard existing jobs, as well as creating new jobs. I hope Ulster University will accept the logic of my argument.

“While my party and I have campaigned for years for the expansion of Magee on the basis of the skills that will be created that will benefit the city and so will create well paid jobs, it is also very important that the expansion provides wider economic benefits through higher spending in the city and on local businesses. That, too, will create more jobs.”

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