1. Can you provide an update of development plans for the Belfast campus?
In March 2012, the University of Ulster submitted a planning application for its new £250 million Belfast city campus which will provide our students and staff with a dynamic, state of the art learning and research facility in the heart of the city.
Under the plan, the University will be relocating the bulk of its staff and students currently based in Jordanstown to York Street where our Belfast campus is currently based but which will be significantly enlarged.
In November 2012, Ulster also unveiled a Masterplan for the Jordanstown site where the University announced its intention, subject to planning permission, to spend £6.2 million on enhancing its sports facilities at Jordanstown, the retention of the FireSERT specialist engineering research facility and the retention of the Dalriada student village.
We believe our vision of an open and publicly accessible Belfast city campus will have significant benefits for the city and for Northern Ireland as a whole, including those communities around our campus – creating educational, economic, social and cultural opportunities for people of all backgrounds.
We note the Environment Minister’s comments in the Assembly on February 25 that he hoped DoE Planning would make a recommendation on the planning application to Belfast City Council on March 7 and look forward to that.
2. What is the timetable?
If planning permission is granted in March 2012, the University will move quickly to begin work on the first phase of the development, with the demolition of the buildings it acquired on York Street on the same side of the existing Belfast campus – Playboard and York House – and will begin construction this year.
It is envisaged the first phase of the development will be completed by the summer of 2015. That will enable us to decant staff and students currently using buildings across the road to the new building.
Under our plans, the second phase of the city centre campus development – the most substantive part – will begin in the summer of 2015 and be completed by the summer of 2018 when the bulk of activity, staff and student numbers will be transferred from Jordanstown.
3. What is the size of the development?
The entire development, on both sides of York Street, is approximately 75,000 square metres which is equivalent to the footprint of the Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast.
4. What is the cost?
The University is spending £250 million on the new Belfast city campus.
5. Do we know how many people will be employed in the construction phase?
The UK Contractors Group in 2009 estimated that £1 billion of major construction generates 32,000 jobs. With a £250 million investment, the University believes there is the potential for 5,000-8,000 jobs across construction and other sectors that support major capital works.
6. How many students will transfer into Belfast as a result and when?
Under the University’s plans, a total of 12,450 students (6,600 full-time undergraduates and 5,850 part-time) and 1,300 staff will relocate from Jordanstown to Belfast in 2018. That will result in approximately 14,000 students on the new campus and 1,500 staff. It should be noted that those numbers reflect the current numbers of undergraduate students and staff at Jordanstown and Belfast. The University has been very clear the only campus where it intends to grow student numbers is our Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry and we have already demonstrated that by allocating to Magee the 572 additional STEM places we received from DEL in December 2011 and November 2012.