The Derry News posed a number of questions to Ulster University (UU) over the continued uncertainty on the establishment of a Medical School at Magee College.

  1. Firstly, we asked does UU have any update or response regarding the medical school and concerns raised by David Sterling around the need for ongoing funding which UU is not prepared to invest?  

    A spokesperson for Ulster University commented: "Following cross-party political and health and social care support in 2016 for Ulster University’s Graduate Entry Medical School, the University has continued to proactively develop the project, working closely with the Department and other relevant partners. Our responses to any remaining clarifications within the Graduate Entry Medical School business case were submitted to the Department of Health at the start of July, following prompt and close engagement with the Department and other relevant partners. Our proposed first academic year of projected enrolments outlined within the updated business case is 2020/21.

    “As the Department of Health has previously confirmed that any decision on funding can only be made by Ministers, the University is not actively recruiting medical students as yet for 2020 entry until that decision on funding can be reached.· If funding was confirmed, all other elements of the proposal for our medical undergraduate degree programme have been firmly on track; including continued progress with the GMC, clinical placement opportunities and the development of a curriculum to meet the needs of healthcare locally.

    “We value the continued support of all those who share our vision for medical education and we continue to work with the General Medical Council, St George’s University of London and local clinicians and partners; building on our existing leadership in medical and healthcare provision to take forward graduate entry medical education for Northern Ireland."

    1. What does UU say in response to local councillors/representatives who have claimed that UU has neglected the Magee campus for decades and should not be given money as part of the City Deal but should instead invest its own money in Derry?  

      A spokesperson for Ulster University commented: "Ulster University continues to invest in the Magee campus, most recently with the state-of-the-art £11m teaching block which signals our ambition for higher education in the city, already enhancing campus life and paving the way for enhanced future capacity at Magee.    This and other investment priorities for students have resulted in a very strong performance for the Magee campus across all elements of the 2019 National Student Survey, reflecting the very positive reaction from our students to these recent investments in University life at Magee.  With all four faculties of the University represented on the Magee campus – across health sciences, arts and humanities, business and computing and engineering, we are pushing boundaries and breaking new ground in emerging sectors as a progressive university, shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education University of the Year Award, 2019.

      “Our contribution to the City Deal opportunity is a significant step forward in our collective opportunity to realise the full ambitions of this vibrant university city.  Our City Deals proposal will see us apply our expertise to help maximize the city’s potential in this unparalleled opportunity to boost economic growth and prosperity.  In our continued collaboration with industry partners, we look forward to driving innovation in personalised medicine, cognitive analytics, robotics and automation, leading to both new research posts and learning opportunities for additional students.  The proposed riverfront innovation hub will build upon the expertise of our first data analytics Institute, opened in 2017 and headquartered at Magee campus, and which cemented our reputation as a global leader in this field. Also integral to the City Deal remains our commitment to establishing a Graduate Entry Medical School in a bid to address the challenges of a healthcare system at breaking point.   City Deal recognises the crucial role our University can play as an economic engine in the North West and is a major boost to the collective ambitions of the city and region.  We look forward to the development of our projects in partnership with industry, civic and educational partners."

      1. How much money will be needed in total to fund the projects put forward as part of the City Deal?

        A spokesperson for Ulster University commented: "The funding contributions by project across City Deal and the Inclusive Futures Funds are indicative at this stage, based on the allocations provided by Council, and subject to adjustment as we go forward.  Our contribution of 10% University funding to the Magee projects within City Deal reflects our belief in the impact they will make, and our commitment to playing our part in the collective ambitions of City Deal.

        “City Deal enables us to build further on our academic strengths that are significant for the region’s growth, and to make sure that this expertise across world class research and progressive student learning works hard for the benefit of all in the city region. The City Deal bid has education, innovation, job creation and skills development at its core and each of these priorities are also central to our work across both teaching and research.  We are therefore a natural fit and a committed partner in this ambitious bid.  A continued collaborative approach is essential as we prepare to take forward the projects through planning and design and development of the business cases.”

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