South Buildings demolition NOT part of finance strategy - say University chiefs

editorial image

UNIVERSITY chiefs have rubbished as “nonsense” claims that the demolition of South Buildings on the Coleraine campus is part of a strategy to diminish services at the University of Ulster.

Staff at UUC were recently informed that the South Buildings are to be demolished.

Concerned staff said: “This will represent the first diminution in campus capacity since the University was established in 1968.

“It is claimed that the fully functional South Buildings, which house the Faculty of Humanities, the School of Education and the Students’ Union, have outlived their natural life - there are no plans to replace them.

“This is taking place in parallel with major redundancies in staffing and threatened redundancies. Staff have organised a petition against the job losses, citing the consequences for academic and research quality,” a source told the Times.

“This follows the closure of the Science Research Park, the Portrush campus and the Science Innovation Centre. Most believe that this is part of a massive cost saving exercise to provide the necessary funds to finance the University’s planned £250 million development in Belfast.”

However, the University of Ulster has dismissed the claims as “nonsense”.

A University of Ulster spokesman said: “Far from what these anonymous briefings claim, recent investment in the Coleraine campus demonstrates the University of Ulster’s commitment to the campus and its long term future.

“Student numbers in Coleraine are being consolidated – with student numbers in computer science, biomedical sciences and pharmacy - which are all economically relevant STEM subjects - being expanded while some nursing places and Irish language are relocated.

“As part of its estates strategy, the University has also been phasing activity out of the South Buildings which are very dated and energy inefficient. As part of the strategy, we are, therefore, investing in a new teaching block on the Coleraine campus.

“Earlier this year, the School of Computing and Information Engineering was transferred to more modern accommodation in our central buildings

“The University has also recently renovated the Diamond which was nominated this year for a Royal Society Architects Award and the University invested in a new expanded library which was opened in 2008 by the East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell.

“The South Buildings are being demolished to address security issues and avoid the University paying rates on empty buildings. Any suggestion that this is being done to fund the Belfast campus is nonsense.

“The business case for the development of the Belfast campus, which has been approved by the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Department for Employment and Learning, does not involve the sale of any land in Coleraine or Portrush.”