30/08/2013

Other News In Brief

Two People Convicted Of Benefit Fraud

Two people were convicted at Londonderry Magistrates' court for claiming benefits they were not entitled to.

Natalie McLaughlin (28) of Drumard Park, Londonderry claimed Income Support and Housing Benefit totalling £5,151 while failing to declare employment. She was given a four month prisons sentence suspended for three years.

Michaela Harkin (36) of Drumleck Drive, Londonderry claimed Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance totalling £3,628 while failing to declare employment. She was given a three month prison sentence suspended for two years, fined £200 and ordered to pay court costs of £43.

Both are also required to repay any outstanding money wrongfully obtained to the Social Security Agency.

Minister Attends Conference Aimed At Importance Of ICT

Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has spoken of the growing importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills among school leavers.

He was speaking at a conference attended by 200 primary school teachers aimed at sharing best practice in the delivery of ICT teaching.

Addressing delegates at the conference at Ashfield Girls' High School in Belfast, the Minister highlighted the demands placed on the education system by the global economy and said: "Employers tell us they need young people who are literate and numerate – these skills underpin ICT expertise. Growing that expertise is vital if we are to build a world class education system and compete in an increasingly global market.

"Opportunities in the work environment now and in the future are very different from a generation ago; the knowledge, skills, attitudes and qualifications of school leavers need to reflect and respond to a fast changing world.

"ICT is an essential skill in its own right – sitting alongside literacy and numeracy as a core skill that all young people need to develop."

Concerns Raised Over Increased Fees At Queen's

SDLP Employment and Learning Spokesperson Pat Ramsey has expressed concern about the above-average increase in fees at Queen's University relating to taught Postgraduate courses.

The Foyle MLA said: "A rise of 12% in postgraduate taught course fees – sometimes up to £480 is a massive hike for any student and family who may be support a postgrad student. When put in the context of the £120 rise by the University of Ulster in relation to the same level of course, the increase does stick in the throats of many who had wanted to pursue a postgraduate course.

"The price increase will be felt by both full-time and part-time students, with the basic rate of a module being increased. The university have said that they have realigned their taught course fees with others across the sector, but I would urge them to take into consideration the implications this may have for some families and students, who may now find a postgrad course beyond their means."

(CD)

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