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Further And Higher Education (Report)

Volume 35: debated on Monday 17 January 1983

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish in the Official Report his response to the ninth report of the Education, Science and Arts Committee of Session 1981–82 on further and higher education in Northern Ireland: interim report (H.C. No. 557) contained in his letter to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West of 22 December 1982.

The text of the Secretary of State's letter is as follows. Copies of the statement referred to in paragraph 2 were placed in the Library on 22 December:

"I was grateful to receive the Committee's observations in its Ninth Report, which was published on 28 October as an interim report on the immediate implications of the merger of the New University of Ulster and the Ulster Polytechic.
I share your concern that uncertainty over the future of the teacher training provision should be removed and I hope therefore that you welcomed the statement made by Nicholas Scott today setting out the Government's proposals. A copy of the Statement is attached.
I, like the Committee, believe that the planning of the new institution should be conducted with the full involvement of those who will ultimately be responsible for making it effective. I therefore welcome the Committee's support for the arrangements announced on 26 October for the Steering Group to set up a Working Party to include the Vice-Chancellor designate, to make recommendations on structures of governance and management of the new institution. You will be pleased to know that both the existing institutions have responded favourably to this proposal and have each named six members of the Working Party. A second working party has been established by the Steering Group to look at more detailed aspects of the academic organisation of the new institution. This working party is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor designate, Mr. Derek Birley, and it also includes members of the Steering Group and staff of both the New University of Ulster and the Ulster Polytechnic.
I have also noted carefully your remarks, in paragraph 5 of the interim report, about the need for flexibility if the target date of September 1984 for the coming into operation of the new institution should be proved unduly ambitious. I should mention that the Steering Group at its last meeting endorsed its aim to advance planning at a pace which will be consistent with this target, and I believe that there is every advantage in having the new institution take on an independent existence at the earliest possible date consistent with allowing adequate time for the essential planning work. This is something which I will certainly keep under review in the light of the periodic progress reports which I receive from the Steering Group.
I am at one with you in the importance which you attach to meeting the needs of Londonderry for further and higher education. In the Government statement we said:
"Magee University College in Londonderry will also be a significant element within the new institution. As the only campus of the new institution that will be located in the middle of a large concentration of population, and as serving an area remote from the education facilities of the Belfast area, the Government acknowledges the force of the Review Group's view that fuller use could and should be made of Magee in meeting the immediate requirements of the Londonderry area. The nature of the new institution should lend itself well to making maximum use of the Magee campus, in the provision of courses and activities which relate directly to the immediate requirements of the Londonderry area, which is the role envisaged for Magee in the Report."
It is too early yet to say what precise role will be played by Magee college as part of the new institution, or what part the new institution will make, alongside other agencies, in meeting the overall needs of Londonderry for further and higher education. You may however be assured that this important aspect of the new institution's work will not be overlooked.
Finally, may I repeat what I said in giving oral evidence to the Committee, that I very much welcome the interest which you have shown in these developments and in further and higher education generally in Northern Ireland. I look forward with interest to the fuller report which you will be issuing in due course."