I attended a debate event last Thursday in the Great Hall, Magee College entitled “Time to strengthen the regional impact of the greater North West” and it has put my head in a spin.
“What just happened?” I asked myself as I left the building.
John Daly (Economist) made a presentation that was a devastating statistical indictment of Ulster University’s sustained failure to develop Magee.
Population Student Numbers
Limerick 102,287 30,069
Galway 85,910 26,996
Letterkenny 22,549 3,993
Derry 108,227 4,208
After John Daly’s presentation what happened is that speakers and chairpersons politely minimised and diverted any voices that jumped to the conclusion that a new University partner should be found to develop Magee.
An argument was put forward that the Ulster University leadership is genuine, and that significant progress is being made. The figure of 4,208 was corrected to 5,243. They said that the people of Derry should wait and see what good things will happen.
The people of Derry have been waiting and it is clear that little progress has been made. The staff, courses, students, and resources of the Ulster University are largely in Belfast. The prospect of the UU developing Magee is very unlikely. It is not the focus of that institution. Nor has it ever been.
From a Derry point of view the civic, political, and academic support for the university is what systemic, governmental, institutional failure looks like. Of course, this is hard to accept or even recognise if you are part of system, government, or institution. It is easier to ignore the evidence and don’t mention the numbers. That is precisely what happened on Thursday.