Northern Ireland news

Students welcome minister's tuition fees comments

NUS-USI President Robert Murtagh

STUDENT leaders have welcomed as positive a commitment by the economy minister to avoid an increase in university tuition fees.

In an interview with The Irish News, Diane Dodds said there was a need to look at how to better fund higher education.

The north is worse off than England by tens of millions of pounds a year. Institutions in Northern Ireland are more reliant on government funding because they cannot charge fees as high. There are also caps on the number of places for `home' students.

At present students pay £4,275 per year at home or up to £9,250 if they study in England or Wales.

Mrs Dodds said students should not be penalised.

"Student fees are not the only aspect of that debate and, therefore, we should not pick on the students," she said.

"I absolutely believe that opening up educational opportunities to all is supremely important in this brief, therefore I do not want to see students priced out of university."

The NUS-USI student body welcomed the comments.

"Higher tuition fees do not offer a sustainable solution to funding problems in tertiary education and would only place a greater burden of debt onto the next generation," said president Robert Murtagh.

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