Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(2)

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (Rule of Law) – in the House of Commons at 8:59 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 8:59 pm, 9th September 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I am aware that he and his party have strong views on this issue, and we are looking at all elements of this policy.

While many in this House have called for retrospection, we must not forget that the last time the parties in Northern Ireland were formally consulted on this, in 2017, there was only consensus for transparency going forward. The published data now available as a result of the legislation is a starting point for a review to consider what further transparency may be appropriate.

I will turn now to higher education. Northern Ireland has made great strides in higher education provision, with two world-renowned universities—Queen’s and Ulster University—attracting students from all over the globe. While the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy has policy responsibility for higher education in Northern Ireland, universities are independent of government. As such, it is for a university, whether prospective or existing, to decide where to base any new campus.

No application has been made from any organisation to establish a university whose main campus is in Derry/Londonderry. The Government are aware that Ulster University is considering the development of a graduate medical school to be located in Derry/Londonderry, and that proposal features in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s economic regeneration plans for the region. Education is key to securing a prosperous future for Northern Ireland, and it is right that we focus on where the current skills gaps lie and how they can be met.