Medical school opening on hold due to lack of NI Executive, says university

Prof Paddy Nixon, Ulster University vice chancellor
Prof Paddy Nixon, Ulster University vice chancellor

Ulster University’s plans to open a new medical school in Londonderry have been put on hold until September 2020 because of the ongoing political stalemate at Stormont, the university’s vice chancellor has said.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Professor Paddy Nixon said the facility at the Magee campus, which was due to be unveiled next year, will not open as planned because there is no Northern Ireland Executive to sign off on the project.

The only medical school in Northern Ireland is currently at Queen’s University in Belfast, and Prof Nixon has stressed that more places for medical students are needed here.

It’s understood that up to £5m has already been invested in Ulster University’s medical school.

“We could go at any stage. We are basically at a shovel ready stage,” Prof Nixon told the BBC.

“The only thing that is stopping us from progressing in opening in 2019, 2020 or even 2021 is that simply there is no decision making.”

Prof Nixon said the university is “deeply frustrated” that there is no one to sign off on the business case for the project.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January 2017 when the coalition led by the DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed.