Massive surge reported in Magee applications

Derry’s Magee College has received an astonishing 6,000 applications for just 950 university places, figures obtained by the ‘Journal’ reveal.

Padraig Canavan, chair of the U4D lobby group – which is campaigning to secure more university places for Derry – says the latest application figures show “the worsening crisis of under-provision of university places” in the city.

The statistics released to the ‘Journal’ by the University of Ulster show a 22% rise in applicants at Magee compared to last year and a massive 36% rise on 2008.

This figure dwarfs the 10% rise in applicants the University of Ulster has experienced this year across all four of its campuses.

Mr Canavan says a lack of university places in Derry is adversely affecting the city.

“The Derry Journal has done an excellent public service by obtaining the figures that show the worsening crisis of under-provision of university places in Derry-Londonderry and illustrate the problem for Northern Ireland as a whole.

“We are very concerned that, at present, 35% of Derry’s students and a third of Northern Ireland students go away to Great Britain to study at university – and most of these do not return. This is a permanent brain drain of much of the best of our youth.”

He says a cap on the number of student places needs to be lifted.

“As the Derry Journal has established, far more of our students now want to go to university here – and we should allow them to do so.

“If the University of Ulster’s Magee campus was to expand from its existing 3,700 students to 10,000 students, it would generate about £240m a year for our local economy.

“It would be the single most important initiative to drive forward our economy on a continuing basis – probably even more significant than being awarded City of Culture, important as this is.”

In total the Magee campus received 6,145 applications for first year undergraduate study for 2010/11. A total of 951 places are available at the Derry college.

Among the most in demand courses are Social Work, Nursing, Business studies, Psychology and Computing.

University of Ulster’s vice-chancellor Professor Richard Barnett says the record number of applications for Magee reflect how “demand for places has intensified in recent years.”

The University will host an advice day for prospective students next Monday at Magee.