EDUCATING ULSTER : Northern Ireland has a chronic shortage of students, whilst Belfast has too many and the west of the province has too few. The solution is obvious.

September marked the annual return of students to their term-time accommodation. And within two days residents of the Holylands had lodged over 150 complaints of anti-social behaviour with Belfast City Council. That university neighbourhood’s term-time population comprises over 90% of students/young people, amounting to an estimated 7,000 in just one square kilometre.

It will probably provide little comfort to residents of the Holylands to learn that Northern Ireland (NI) has the lowest provision of university places in the UK. And the cause is certainly not a shortage of demand. NI consistently tops the UK A’Level league tables, and our percentage of school-leavers going to University is a third higher than the UK  average. With over 30% of NI University-goers leaving the province every year, and a tiny proportion of students coming here to study from elsewhere, the issue is therefore very much a lack of supply. It’s a brain drain that sees us lose some of our brightest young people every year, many of whom will never live here again.

This under-provision of third level opportunities in Northern Ireland was highlighted as long ago as the 1997 Dearing Report into the UK’s Higher Education (HE) sector. Little has been done since then to address the issue, with the Stormont Executive seemingly more interested in building economic prosperity through third-party subsidies. Evidence of the positive impact Universities have on the economic health of their locations abounds. They spend money, create skills and jobs, and increase incomes. And with a close correlation between the proportion of graduates in a population and its rate of economic activity and GDP per-capita, they also sow a long-term economic legacy. The case is therefore clear. Northern Ireland needs increased University provision, and it would be one of the shrewdest economic investments Stormont could make.

If thousands of new University places were created here, where should they be based ? The short answer is ‘not Belfast’ – as data shows that the province’s HE provision is already excessively concentrated there. Despite containing only a quarter of the north’s population, more than 80% of all Higher Education places in Northern Ireland are located in Greater Belfast (2014/5 student figures used here and throughout). By comparison, only 43% of the Republic’s HE provision is based in Dublin. That means over 9% of the population of Greater Belfast is currently in full-time higher education – and when Ulster University relocates its Jordanstown campus to inner-Belfast in 2018, HE provision will approach 14% of the population within the city proper.

So if not Belfast, where should any new student places be located ? Of the 15 towns and cities across Ireland with Higher Education institutions (i.e. Universities and Institutes of Technology), Northern Ireland’s second city (Derry) has by far the lowest provision – less than 4% of its population (4,182 students). For perspective – in 2014/5 Coleraine had 5,236 full-time students (21% of population), Limerick 27,000 (30%) and Galway over 26,000 (34%). Derry’s student population also pales in comparison to similar regional cities elsewhere in the UK. Yet Derry is a very youthful city, with 24% of its population aged under 16 (vs 21% in NI and 19% UK-wide). So whilst a staggeringly high proportion of Northern Ireland’s students are educated in Belfast every year, Derry’s higher education provision is derisory. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to find the city constantly languishing at the top of the UK’s unemployment tables.

Derry does have a small Ulster University campus at Magee – established in 1865, and recommended for closure by the 1965 Lockwood Report. That report was commissioned by the old Government of Northern Ireland to address capacity constraints at Queens by recommending a new university. Lockwood provoked outrage when it recommended locating that new university in Coleraine – a decision viewed then and since as evidence of a deliberate policy to isolate nationalist Derry. Magee was eventually kept open as a sop to the city, but Derry’s battle for adequate University provision has continued for the last 50 years. In more recent years the council’s economic strategy has identified Magee expansion as the single most important development for the city’s regeneration. And the Chamber of Commerce, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and every political party in the north-west also support it. Yet when Ulster University revealed in 2009 that most of the 16,000 staff and students at their Jordanstown campus were relocating, they opted to build a new £300m campus in inner-Belfast. With Belfast already over-stocked with students and Derry suffering from their absence, there is only one place Jordanstown should credibly have moved. And with sufficient land available near Magee, and property prices there a fraction of those in Belfast, it would have made financial sense too. As private entities, universities can locate wherever they like – though Stormont has gifted £17m of public money to assist Ulster’s move. Doubtless expecting criticism for that, news of the grant was accompanied by a statement that “Ulster continues to work with the Department for Employment and Learning to develop its plan to expand Magee”. Yet the reality since then has been the opposite. Over 100 staff have been lost from Magee in the last five years, a number of its courses have been closed or transferred to Coleraine, and a ‘first option’ to purchase 30 acres of land next to the college was signed in 2009, only to be relinquished last year. Amidst the building of a new £300m campus in Belfast, Stormont and Ulster University now claim that financial constraints are preventing the expansion of Magee. Derry seems further from securing proper university provision than at any time since the late Sixties.

It is therefore time for the Stormont Executive to exhibit leadership, vision and regionalism over the future capacity and location of Higher Education in Northern Ireland. In short, it’s time for a 21st century Lockwood Report (though one that does the job properly this time). To address the historical under-provision of university places that the Executive inherited from direct rule, and with Brexit likely to impact NI more than any other region, a robust case must be made to Westminster for one-off capital funding to enable NI’s student numbers to be increased to at least the UK average. Within that it is essential to recognise that Belfast and Coleraine already have more than their fair share of students, whilst the rest of the province has too few. The funding should therefore be primarily focused on giving Derry the independent and expanded University it has waited over 50 years for – with its own charter, and a minimum of 10,000 student places (9% of the city’s current population). The rest of the province should also benefit directly from this funding, through the creation of new HE college courses in towns like Omagh, Enniskillen and Armagh. In this way a long-standing disadvantage borne by Northern Ireland as a whole (and the city of Derry in particular) can be tackled, and our population better equipped to weather Brexit’s impact. An historical injustice to the people of the North-west can finally be corrected. And the residents of the Holylands can gain some succour in the fact that ever-higher number of students are unlikely to be poured into their neighbourhood.


– The figures re student numbers in each town appeared in a Derry Journal article on 9th October last year, and are credited as having been amalgamated from the college’s websites and Wikipedia. I’ve also cross-checked them with the figures for NI Unis given in last month’s Times Universities Guide, and they seem on track (obviously the student numbers will have changed a bit over the last 2yrs)..

– The figures for the total populations of the various towns – expressed as a percentage being students – come from the census and/or Wikipedia. I know Wikipedia isn’t always right, but it usually is in my experience – especially on statistical and factual matters. The figures also feel intuitively about right as well.

– The percentages given for youthfulness of population in Derry/NI/UK come from the 2011 census.

– The figure of 100 staff losses at Magee over 5yrs came via an FOI request reported on the front page of the Derry Journal on 4th August 2015.

– All the figures for Jordanstown’s move to York Street are from newspaper reports – from December 2008, when the Telegraph leaked the story ; the January 2009 official announcements re the move ; and later announcements re the Stormont grant.

– The figures re the 90% student density of the Holylands come from a Times Higher Education article in February 2005. The figure of 7,000 students there comes from Wikipedia. I don’t have an alternative source for this – I’m not sure where that level of micro-data is captured tbh.

Steve Bradley is a native of Derry who moved to England for university 25 years ago, and has yet to return permanently. He works as a consultant on urban regeneration and environmental sustainability. He also writes on sport, politics, history, heritage and the environment for a number of publications – including a regular page in football magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’. In his spare time he is a social entrepreneur – specialising in turning neglected corners of cities into cultural, arts or heritage-based projects. And earlier this year he led the campaign to have Derry included as a venue in Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

You can follow him on Twitter @Bradley_Steve

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  • SeaanUiNeill

    As I’d said above………….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ted, you could stretch that to seventy years…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    File, perhaps if you were actually more familiar with QUB and with other Russell group Universities. No, Queens is more than holding its own in the important research its body of talent engages in.

  • SeaanUiNeill
  • john millar

    “John, the criticism holds. You may not like these students, but they have been selected for courses at a University which remains a member of the Russell Group, which does not exactly have low standards”

    Queens is a middle ranking university a bit above UU in the League Table Standards might be measured by the points needed for entry to particular courses.

    Whilst the requirement for entry to seriously oversubscribed/popular courses (, Law Medicine ,Dentistry for example) have held up the position for others has not . To keep bums on seats requirements are relaxed as necessary. Whether they are wear sports tops or not.

  • Katyusha

    If you’re using Reykjavik as an example you’re kind of proving my point.

    Just pointing out that the idea that “Derry is perhaps the most geographically remote town in Europe” is demonstrably, cut-and-dried, false. Unless you meant “The most geographically remote city, apart from that other one which is much more geographically isolated”, or for some reason one large island in the North Atlantic counts as part of Europe, but another doesn’t.

    Yes, Galway is geographically distant from the more populous east coast but it’s position makes it better suited to exploit tourism from all corners of Ireland.

    Glad we’ve cleared that up.

    Galway was a thriving port to Europe during medieval times. Derry’s port served Scotland – once that industry dried up (mostly linen) the raison d’etre of Derry dried up too.

    Galway’s history as a port is about as relevant to its current economy as Derry’s. As you say yourself, it is heavily dependent on domestic tourism. Many cities have lost there original “Raison d’Etre” in recent years. You might as well make the case for depopulating Liverpool for the loss of shipping to the rest of the empire, Manchester for the decline of the cotton trade, or Glasgow for the loss of shipbuilding. It would fit in with conservative notions about refocusing the economy and population of the UK around London and its extended commuter belt, but the rest of the country perceives that as rather unfair. Cities persisit and adapt. You don’t simply up sticks and move everyone to the east coast just because the wind has changed.

    It’s a big town that got notions of itself as a city because of the industrial revolution and the linen trade (similar to northern England) but whose time is long gone

    The comparison to Northern England is quite apt. Personally, I’m not a fan of Thatcherite “managed decline”. The duty of the government is to look after the well being of its citizens, wherever they may live, and abandoning cities like Liverpool or Derry expecting that the resulting economic decline will force the populace to move elsewhere is no way to manage a country.

    If it weren’t for the Troubles most people would have forgotten it existed a long time ago. Sad but true. It is only the size it is because of partition and the UK government.

    That’s the first time I’ve ever heard partition or the Troubles cited as a reason for Derry’s extremely limited “success”. Partition was a disaster for Derry. It cut the city off from its hinterland in Donegal/Inishowen, and it was managed by an administration that couldn’t care less about its prospects or the population. We can see this quite evidently in the lack of adequate road or rail links, or in the recommendation to close its only university campus rather than develop it. It suffered from years of civil unrest and terrorism. Do you really think that if Derry city had not been left sitting right on the Northern side of the border, it would be worse off? Do you think it would be worse off under an RoI administration that developed the similarly isolated, deprived, underdeveloped and uneconomic cities of Limerick and Galway, sometimes in contravention of conventional economic sense? Do you think emigration from Derry would have been even higher without partition, negligence and civil strife?

    It’s rather an indictment, and embarrassing, that the RoI government is willing to fund infrastructure spending towards a dual carriageway from Derry to Dublin, that would serve both the city and Donegal, and that there is no motorway between Belfast and Derry, a much shorter distance and the two most significant population centres in NI. If the RoI is willing to pay for such a road through another state, I think we can assume it would exist if Derry was in the same state. Just like every other city under the RoI’s administration.

    The future is about globalised capital and attracting foreign investment and skilled workers and huge urban and metropolitan areas with quick links to other huge urban and metropolitan areas.

    I agree with you about the first part “globalised capital and attracting foreign investment and skilled workers “, but unfortunately as an engineer with an interest in rail networks, not about the second “metropolitan areas with quick links to other huge urban and metropolitan areas.” As business has become global rather that regional, with cheap, fast global supply chains, remotely located factories and digital communication, fast passenger links have decreased in value, (not so for freight, although cost and volume is more important than outright speed). I’d be the first to advocate for a high speed rail network linking up the northern cities of England into one big metropolitan area, like with Rhine-Ruhr, but the benefits aren’t as clear as they were in the past.

    You don’t have to have fast links to other cities to grow, although it helps to be connected rather than isolated. Just look at Tallinn – another city that is possibly more isolated than Derry and has a thriving digital economy.
    (Okay, it’s only about 50 miles from Helsinki, but in the absence of the long-proposed tunnel, it’s a journey of three-and-a-half fours by ferry.)

    The east coast will continue to thrive in Ireland at the expense of the west and there’s not much anyone can do about it.

    Well, agreed, but that’s no excuse not to try and mitigate the effects.

  • Reader

    Katyusha: Greater Belfast
    Your definition of Greater Belfast must be rather different from that in the original article, which suggests it holds a quarter of the NI population. If it reaches out as far as Lisburn then greater Belfast holds a far greater share of the NI population than that. Are you assuming that “Greater Belfast” is a synonym for “Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area”? BMUA just looks like a commuter belt to me.
    As for quibbling over the definition of a city – what’s your definition: Cathedral? Charter? Population? “Katyusha says so”?
    And if something meets the definition of a city, how does that translate into the need for a university? Especially if it’s a small city.
    Your nisra reference doesn’t define “city” by the way. It does, sort of, define “Urban Area”. I am a bit curious as to what you mean by “regional significance”. Derry is maybe a retail hub in a bit of a desert – that sort of significance?

  • file

    Maybe I am, Seaan. QUB is currently ranked joint 33rd among UK universities, and in the band 201-250 among global universities. All other Russell Group universities are ranked above this. Now if you call this ‘more than holding it is own’ I suggest all that you really mean is that QUB is better than UU. it is certainly nowhere near the standard evident in other Russell Group Universities, and that is because its inclusion in the group was a political deal agreed at the ST Andrews Agreement (Oct 2006). QUB joins Russell Group … November 2006.

  • grumpy oul man

    Nice bit of secterian stereotyping there! What exactly is your problem with GAA tops do you have the same issues with linfield or rangers tops seen a lot of drunken shaved heads and bottle blondes wearing those , the main difference seems to be the level of education.

  • grumpy oul man

    You haven’t been in Derry for a while have you Chris. Great music, craic, food and culture.
    A great place altogether and a lot more fun than Larne lisburn Carrickfergus or Ballymena.

  • Daragh

    Andrew I think the point here is that the West of the Bann, and Derry in particular, have been and are being deliberately discriminated against once again.
    In order to facilitate the move from Jordanstown a Business Plan had to be prepared for the moving of student numbers to alternate sites. The business plan prepared for the move to Belfast was 250 pages long, while the alternate business plan to move the additional places to Derry was 7 pages long. This shows the clear intent from the outset. Any impartial approach would have identified where the need for University places was greatest, as illustrated by Steve’s figures above, and allotted the places accordingly.
    However the whole process was another sectarian stitch up which ensured all (ALL) the student places moved to Belfast and shortly after the delivery of said University places to Belfast Richard Barnett was given a Knighthood before retiring which is exasperating to say the least. I know this whole episode barely registers with Belfast based Political types who frequent Slugger, but it makes me sick to my very core.
    Civic Society in Derry has tried to make the case through the One Plan (which was adopted in programme for government but never had £1 budgeted for its implementation), through the pressure group University 4 Derry (U4D) and through the local Chamber of Commerce all to no avail. We can’t even get a road built from Derry without some half baked objection on behalf of some spurious environmental concern – ie a rare moss found on the proposed route.
    The message is clear – Derry will never get a fair shake in Northern Ireland, and I therefore will therefore welcome anything that will hasten (the failed state) OWC’s demise.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    You’re making a different argument to that of the OP. You consider the case where UUJ gets moved to Derry *instead* of York St. The OP considers the case where Derry gets a new university in *addition* to York St. Your scenario does not change the overall number of student places in NI. The OP does.

  • John Collins

    Yes Brian, but is it £9,000 annually in GB, although I am sure not about NI, but since it is in GB it should be the same.

  • John Collins

    The fact that the war started in 39 is a very important point, but not as important as the fact that the USA joined it after Pearl Harbour. Here the two countries, for the second time in 25 years were engaged in a massive struggle with Germany and their allies. Now two of the then riches were never engaged as closely engaged with each other as they were during the early forties. By contrast the ROI had stayed of the war and Dev was at absolute loggerheads with the USA, and especially their Ambassador in Dublin, John Gray. Shortly after the War the US put in place the Marshall Plan to help the then utterly depleted West of Europe to rebuild themselves. With mainly British Aid they actually gave Germany a huge grant, note grant, to rebuild their country in 1953. Are you saying that during the War it would not have been in both countries interest to build that facility in Derry. No Unionists, for all their old guff, sat on their butts and allowed Dev, a man whom the Yanks loathed with great passion, to wipe their eye.

  • John Collins

    One they got wrong
    They got the location of the Uni wrong and failed to build a motorway to Derry in a timely fashion also.

  • John Collins

    Derry was a big city when Belfast was a fishing town. There was only 2,000 people in Belfast in 1800.
    Remember there a siege in Derry in the late Seventeenth Century because it was a place worth defending
    The IDA and the Irish government who had the 12% tax fully in place ten years before NI, also subsidised the construction of factories in Southern cities

  • John Collins

    Prestwick is hundreds of kilometres ffruther from Gander than Derry. How did that make sense. No doubt Unionists sat on the fence.

  • John Collins

    Well I am sure it is a more welcoming for Unionists than the Belfast shipyards were for the ‘other crowd’ back in the day.

  • John Collins

    Well if was built in Omagh it would have closed the mouths of those who cry ‘The Prods get everything’

  • grumpy oul man

    But then again England does not have a sporting organization as popular as the GAA, and last time i traveled through oxford i did notice quite a few rugby tops!

  • the moviegoer

    “Remember there a siege in Derry in the late Seventeenth Century because it was a place worth defending”

    That’s my point. It made sense as a location in ye olde times. Not so much now. The whole town fit inside the walls then so it was a metropolis by the standards of the time but not by today’s. If you were starting from scratch now based on current economic, market and demographic considerations the location of Derry is the last place you’d put a city. East and South coasts make much more sense.

    The IDA subsidised jobs in the south but nowhere near to the same extent. In 1990 it was estimated it cost 30K to create one job in an American firm in Derry. The southern government could not afford to be that generous.

  • grumpy oul man

    Fecundity, huddled masses, why not just say,
    Themuns breed like rabbits and live like rats, its what you meant.

  • Jollyraj

    “Well I am sure it is a more welcoming for Unionists than the Belfast shipyards were for the ‘other crowd’ back in the day.”

    Oh, well that’s alright then.

    John. You’ve made this ‘2 wrongs make a right’ approach in other contexts, too – that nationalists are justified in all the nasty stuff they’ve done because of unionist discrimination in times gone by.. They aren’t. I feel sure you’re better than that.

    (Thanks for the link in the other thread, by the way – much appreciated).

  • the moviegoer

    I think you’re fixating on this Shannon Airport thing as if it was some kind of lifesaver. It wasn’t. Limerick has high unemployment, huge social problems and a dangerous reputation. The airport has been a political hot potato for 20 years as it is really no longer viable. It was a good idea at the time but for every one thing Dev got right he got 10 wrong. There were huge parts of the Republic that were neglected, e.g. the midlands, the southeast, and high emigration has been a near-constant feature of life for the past century. I totally agree that Derry has been neglected by the Stormont regime but it’s unclear if a Dublin government would have been able to offer it an awful lot better. It might have ended up as neglected and overlooked as drab Waterford.

  • Gopher

    Prestwick lay on a mainline on the mainland. Rail was the principle form of travel until the sixties. In 1958 the Boeing 707 entered service followed by the DC8. They revolutionized air travel and effectively made Shannon and Prestwick a backwater. The final nail in the coffin for backwater airports was the 767 and the 120 minute ETOPS rating.

    I assume Foynes the precursor to Shannon was picked for flying boats because the orientation of the estuary is west to east and enabled the Flying boats to get the lift by taking off into the wind. The orientation of the Foyle is North to South and surrounded by mountains.

    From a British perspective most of the destinations a Britain who could afford to fly and wanted to go to post war lay to the East. NI was littered with airports post war with runways capable of taking any aircraft of the day. Northern Ireland is just in the wrong place.

  • Gopher

    There were plenty of airports near Derry the British government simply did not enforce the protectionism that Dev gave to Shannon.

  • Steve

    Sorry Moviegoer, but so much of what you’re posting is just nonsense that I feel compelled to respond (even though it’s hard to know where to begin) :

    – Derry port did NOT just serve Scotland, and was NOT based on linen. It was a major Trans-atlantic shipping port for over 200yrs, and took a large proportion of emigrants from the northern half of the island of Ireland to Canada and the United States. The city’s main industrial-era export wasn’t linen – that was Belfast – it was shirts, with the city being the largest producer in the world up until approx a century ago. Derry was also the world’s largest whiskey producer just over a century ago, with a lot of that for international export via the port. And the city was of course a major military port during the Second World War as well. So to claim that Derry was some sort of unimportant backwater port that was just about linen and Scotland is pure nonsense.

    – Derry “is a big town that got notions of itself as a city because of the industrial revolution and the linen trade”.
    This is historical revisionism at a comical level. Far from having notions of itself as a city, Derry was granted city status in 1613 by King James I. It remained one of Ulster’s most important cities for centuries afterwards. For perspective, Belfast didn’t get city status until 1888, and was literally just a mud hut or two when Derry was chartered. I’ve already mentioned above that Derry was NOT a major centre for the linen trade, with its shipping being more people, shirts, whiskey, timber etc.

    – How exactly could or should Derry be downsized by over 50% ? Are you advocating a Highland’s clearances-style approach ? And apart from your ill-informed prejudices – why should it be ? We’ve already had decades of an unofficial strategy to keep the city’s population down by marginalisation, and that led to the outbreak of 30yrs of conflict via the Civil Rights Movement (in case you didn’t notice).

    – It is nonsense to claim that Derry’s population has been kept at some artificially high level by government subsidy and partition, as the truth is the exact opposite. Firstly – where are these “UK government subsidised foreign companies” you speak of in Derry ? You could genuinely count them on one hand (Du Pont – not the size it once was ; Fruit of the Loom – long since closed. Who else ?). All the evidence shows that Derry has received FAR LESS of these Government subsidised jobs than certainly Belfast and also the rest of the north. You don’t hear of the sort of high profile closures and down-sizings that Ballymena has had recently in Derry, because those sorts of large foreign employers simply don’t exist in Derry. If you look at the IDA’s own figures, it’s frightening how little of their work reaches outside Belfast, let alone west of the Bann. Secondly – far from boosting Derry’s population, partition cut the city off from its hinterland and has retarded its economic growth ever since. And without jobs, people leave. Thirdly – without a proper University, the city’s population has been about 10% lower than it should have been for the last 50 years. If you go back to the 60s and 70s and look at population projections for NI, Derry was predicted to have a population of over 150,000 people by now. We can blame the troubles to some extent for that fact that hasn’t happened, but not for such a huge disparity between predicted and actual population (especially when NI’s population as a whole stayed broadly flat across the Troubles).

    The simple fact is, Derry has been held back in terms of its economy and infrastructure to such an extent that its population has also been artificially suppressed. If Derry had a proper University and an unemployment rate that was the NI average, the city would have a significant uplift in population just from those two things alone. I’m afraid your comments bear no reflection to the facts, reality and history of the city, and your motives for posting them are therefore questionable.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It depends on which criteria one applies to assessing the University file!

    “Queen’s has established itself in the premier league of UK research-intensive universities and is a member of the Russell Group. The UK-wide 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise placed Queen’s 8th in the UK for Research Intensity.

    Over 75% of research activity at Queen’s was judged to be internationally excellent or world-leading. 26 of the 28 subject areas submitted to REF 2014 were ranked in the UK top 20 for research intensity, with 6 of these in the top 10, and 2 in the top 5.”

    For anyone interested, the details of this “33rd” ranking which you mention can be examined here:

    Note that graduate prospects are higher than most of the Universities placed “above” QUB and are (interestingly) just 1/10 of a point under the LSE. The Russell group is about the actual value of a Universities research record, something which has always been of a most high standard at QUB, and before anyone should accept your implication that this is some kind of “Peace Deal”, I wonder if it was to pacify Welsh seperatists that Cardiff (35th) was offered Russell Group status? Or that the Liverpool “Irish” needed to be “included sideways” in the Belfast Agreement (Liverpool University, 38th, another “Russell designation”). Its well worth actually looking carefully at the figures on which these criteria are judged on the above link, rather than simply picking “33rd” out of the internet without unpacking it carefully. “All other Russell Group universities are ranked above this.” Clearly not even in listing rank, and certainly not when individual criteria evaluations are compared. The link should permit a more careful apprasial of how this particular placing is constructed, and certainly dismisses the “X Files” conspiricy take you’ve suggested.

  • John Collins

    And how much did it cost to create each in De Lorean, which was in Belfast?

  • John Collins

    You right of course, two wrongs never made a right. No problem with the link.

  • John Collins

    In fairness you should check the level of unemployment there was under British Rule, before you comment on Dev
    Limerick may have its problems but I have gone there man and boy for the last sixty and I never saw even one fight in a public house, while admitting it does have problems. Look at the gang land problems in Dublin and I certainly would not walk its O’Connell St alone after dark. I wonder about this very high its unemployment rate considering the Mid West, of which it is the capital, is the best off region in Ireland outside Dublin.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, check out my links in my reply to “file” elsewhere on this thread which show that this notion of using the league tables to say anything meaningful needs some careful unpacking for anyone serious. Certainly for those not simply intent on scoring cheap points. The entry standards for QUB are certainly higher than a number of the Universities placed “above” it in the tables, and the Graduate prospects are ranked as higher than eighteen of the Universities placed “above”.

    This might be of some help in assessing its actual quality:

  • Barry

    But as anyone in the know at the UU will tell you, students don’t want go to Magee. The entry requirements are lower than the other campuses and still Magee courses don’t get the numbers. Jordanstown/Coleraine courses have to take on more students because of the Magee under-recruitment. Instead of Derry folk complaining about “injustices”, they should wonder why their city is not an attractive option for people looking to study at a higher education level.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    This is a good point.

    The city big wigs should go to Galway for a weekend and try to learn from it.

    I think rate relief for independent pubs, restaurants, cafes and galleries for a decade or so could give it a boost.

    This gives the place a bit more of a lively feeling which makes it more attractive which would broaden the appeal.

  • the moviegoer

    “It was a major Trans-atlantic shipping port for over 200yrs, and took a large proportion of emigrants from the northern half of the island of Ireland to Canada and the United States.”

    So it’s main export was people? Hardly a great sign of economic achievement.

    Shirts. Whiskey. Military. All ye olde times. Derry needs to get into the 21st century or it will go the way of Waterford, a mediocre town masquerading as a city.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Even though the city provides cheap labour by standards in Western Europe, critics have noted that the grants offered by the Northern Ireland Industrial Development Board have helped land jobs for the area that only last as long as the funding lasts.[105] This was reflected in questions to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Richard Needham, in 1990.[106] It was noted that it cost £30,000 to create one job in an American firm in Northern Ireland.”

    If Northern Catholics honestly thought being part of the UK held them back, they would be much more interested in a United Ireland than they are. Recent polls show they are not interested in it in large numbers. Westminster is a better sugar-daddy than Dublin, and that’s all that matters to most Northern Catholics. The polls prove this.

  • file

    My figures are from the Times Higher rankings, not plucked from the internet. Also, anyone involved in the REF exercise knows that it is a farce – it is a prime example of ‘who guards the guards’ as university academics run around the UK grading the achievements of their friends and colleagues.
    I take it you are aware that QUB itself writes the summary about it you have quoted above on the complete university site? I did not make up the political aspect to QUB becoming a member of the Russell Group – I was told that by a member of QUB staff. Dig around a bit yourself and find out the truth of it, and the ‘brain drain’ argument used at St. Andrews by unionist politicians to bring it about.
    Your loyalty to this mediocre, provincial institution is admirable, if misguided. Trinity, for example, is 138th in the same global rankings compared to QUB which is in the range 201-250. So QUB is nowhere near even being the best of a bad lot of universities on this island.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Well, file, if it all comes down to “university academics run around the UK grading the achievements of their friends and colleagues” then how are your “world gradings” any more telling? You appear to be invoking mutual assured destruction on this issue, as, (come on) evaluation is all about academics assessing other academics and institutions. So we’re reduced to tabula rasa if we apply what you are suggesting fully, and not as you seem to be doing selectively.

    “I did not make up the political aspect to QUB becoming a member of the Russell Group – I was told that by a member of QUB staff.” I always offer anything anecdotal I post here “in good faith” myself, as without actual names and published proof I know it must rely on its general credibility. I would not be surprised that you were told what you say, but what was your informant’s own experience here, and what were his motivation in passing this on? I have my own gripes about a lot of what goes on at QUB, but I’d feel that any assessment still needs to be set against the actual standard of research. For myself, I can only go on the research, in comparison with similar research in disciplines I’m familiar with. That stands up in my estimation.

    And if on even begins to accept the evaluations on which the tables you invoked are based (same assessment tables, Times and my source) then QUB is perfectly credible as a Russell Group University, unless you claim that Cardiff and Liverpool were also a side effect of the Belfast agreement? Perhaps you should check this aspect out again with your informant at QUB?

  • CB Belfast

    ‘One-off capital funding’ will not pay for thousands of new places. An increase in the HE budget, year on year, or the introduction of increased fees is required.

  • CB Belfast

    Agreed. Interesting that the executive (with help of local media) has also somehow managed to make the universities, particularly QUB, look like the bad guys on many occasions.

    The fault for our shoddy education system, at all tiers, lies with the DUP and SF – nobody else.

  • CB Belfast

    Just close the curtains and go back to watching the Bake Off, buddy.