Ulster Universities Seek Fee's Decision

There has been political reaction to news of a virtual impasse on setting the level of student fees and on university funding in Northern Ireland.

The SDLP Further Education Spokesperson Pat Ramsey has called on the Stormont Executive to make the right decision "today" on student fees and "end the long period of frustration for students, their families and the community at large about the future of higher education here".

He was speaking after NI's two universities made public their joint appeal to the Stormont Executive to make a decision on the level of fees students will have to pay.

The Vice-chancellor of the University of Ulster Richard Barnett said it is "essential for all young people in Northern Ireland - and their parents - that the Executive makes a decision today."

"It's essential also for what we signal to the rest of the world about the future of Northern Ireland."

The Pro-vice Chancellor at Queen's Tony Gallagher said: "Decisions on the appropriate funding of higher education are urgently required if our universities are not to be damaged beyond repair."

He has described today as 'D-day' for the future of Northern Ireland's Universities as students descend on Queen's and the University of Ulster for their annual 'Open Days'.

"Yet, just weeks from them having to decide which university they would like to attend, they have no idea about the level of fees they will pay, what financial support will be available to them, or whether they will be forced out of a higher education place by increased competition from English students," he added.

Decision Time

Commenting, the SDLP Foyle MLA, said: "The Executive has to make a decision and make it now.

"The protracted period of uncertainty has left its mark on students, families and the wider community, not only uncertain about securing university places in the immediate but also the dark spectre hanging over the future of higher education.

"Young people have worked hard, over their entire post-primary life and are practically in limbo waiting on the Executive to make a decision. They don't deserve that frustration at this time of their lives," he said.

"The SDLP has continually called for no increase in fees. Higher education should not be the preserve of the rich.

"We need to invest in the future of our higher education sector," he said.


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