Rise in University 'Firsts' Welcomed

The numbers of Northern Ireland students obtaining 'first' degree qualifications is continuing to rise according to the Department for Employment and Learning.

The details, published by the Department in two annual reports, give a range of statistics relating to higher education enrolments and qualifications for NI universities (such as Queen's, Belfast, pictured) and NI domiciled students.

The Minister, Sir Reg Empey, welcomed the news and said: "More students are obtaining first degree qualifications at Northern Ireland universities.

"Considering there has been a decrease in other areas of the UK, this is surely testament to the quality of teaching at our local Higher Education Institutions."

The reports also show that, between 2007/8 and 2008/9, the number of full-time first year enrolments at Northern Ireland Higher Education Institutions has increased by 2%.
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The number of full-time first year undergraduate enrolments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects has increased by 4% between 2007/8 and 2008/9.

Sir Reg continued: "It is good to note the increase in the number of students enrolling in STEM subjects, where Northern Ireland has been behind the UK average in terms of the percentage of people with STEM degrees in employment, yet there is an increasing demand for these graduates.

"The higher education sector remains central to the viability of future prosperity of the Northern Ireland economy.

"From raising the aspirations of our young people, equipping them for the world of work, building an economic skills base, being at the forefront of innovation and research, right through to the cultural and social value that higher education undoubtedly delivers, it is clear that Higher Education is critical to the development of Northern Ireland society," he concluded.


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