Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said an expanded and properly resourced Magee University could meet the demand for increased university places.
He was speaking after a forecast from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) predicted a 20% rise in school leavers from the North seeking a university place by 2030.
Mr Eastwood said the British and Irish governments must live up to their commitment to 10,000 student places at Magee as secured by the SDLP in the New Decade, New Approach agreement.
Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said:
“The first responsibility of any government is to provide hope and opportunity to a new generation. It’s the first hurdle and Northern Ireland is still falling at it.
“The UCAS projection demonstrates the clear need to increase higher education places or risk exporting hundreds of young people abroad to find a better life for themselves. And we know from experience that when they leave, they’re unlikely to ever come back.
“The answer is obvious. We need sustained priority investment in skills and education - including at Magee where we have secured a commitment to at least 10,000 places. It’s time to live up to those promises. We have been fighting for an expanded university in Derry for over 50 years, at New Decade, New Approach I insisted that our city must get these university places and it’s long past time that this was delivered.
“The SDLP’s vision for a New Ireland is one where people have access to opportunities on their doorstep. A new country where the limit of your aspiration isn’t capped by the low ambitions of a failing government. The long-awaited expansion of Magee has the potential to create a major university that serves the entire North West of the island and we will keep making that case until its delivered."