Magee expansion: £11m teaching block approved for Derry campus
The development of an £11m teaching block at Ulster University's Magee campus has been approved by Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry.
The expansion will will cover a floor space of almost 4,000 sq meters, include a 340 seat lecture theatre, 20 classrooms and a cafe.
It will mean campus capacity is increased, the awarding of additional student places is a separate process.
Construction will begin later this year and take two years to complete.
Dr Farry said the teaching block will be an essential component of the Magee campus.
"It is vital that we have modern facilities in our higher education institutions to provide the best quality environment for teaching and research, and to ensure that in turn we are supporting our economy.
"This development is a strong signal of the importance of the Magee campus to the economy in the north west," he said.
"This new teaching block will address the existing pressures on capacity and also facilitate some further investments in the numbers of students should the current business case from the Derry-Londonderry Strategy Board be approved, and the recurrent revenue funding found by the NI Executive."
Prof Alastair Adair, acting vice-chancellor, Ulster University said it was another positive step forward for Magee.
"As an inclusive and internationally focused university, we want to offer students from across Northern Ireland and beyond, the most modern and high quality teaching environment."
The SDLP's Mark Durkan welcomed the announcement but added that it should only be the start of a wider expansion.
"Today's approval of £11m for the new teaching and learning block should not be confused with the wider case for expansion at Magee.
"We must continue to press the minister, the Executive and the university to advance the funds needed to facilitate the wider expansion of our city campus, not least in terms of student numbers."
Sinn Féin's Gearóid Ó hEára welcomed the announcement and called on the student cap to be lifted.
"Minister Farry can now further demonstrate his commitment to the expansion of Magee by lifting the maximum student numbers (MaSN) cap. It is within his gift as minister to do so.
"That would be a further move towards full expansion and, along with the business case which is currently progressing, would assist the overall regeneration of the city."
The Ulster Unionists' Julia Kee said there was little point in the extension if more undergraduate courses were not being delivered at Magee.
"What really matters going forward is that there are sufficient, popular course options at Magee which will give people skills and increase employability," she said.
It was announced in February that the university was to axe more than 50 courses because of the budget cuts.