Press Release

Committee Discusses Future of Higher Education

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Reference: E&L 03/10/11

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Employment and Learning has begun to consider the Browne and Stuart reports on the future of university funding. Lord Browne’s report was launched in Westminster yesterday and Joanne Stuart’s report about local funding arrangements was also released.

Dolores Kelly, MLA, Chair of the Employment and Learning Committee said: “We stand at a crucial point where decisions have to be made about how our universities are funded. This decision will have an impact on tens of thousands of our young people for decades to come. We need to determine how to balance the difficult equation of how much student fees should be and how much public finance should be given to the universities. Higher Education is a key driver in our economy.
“The Committee has always been clear that the core principles it will apply to this debate are social inclusion and widening access and participation in higher education. Too much work has been done to allow more of our young people access to higher education to allow any rash decisions that might jeopardise that access.”
Jonathan Bell, MLA, Deputy Chair of the Committee added: “The Committee will now begin a period of discussion and consultation with stakeholders to decide the best way forward. Our young people are relying on us to get this right. What we decide now will have far-reaching effects.
“The Committee intends to be at the forefront of this debate and it is important that the Assembly grasps this opportunity to make decisions locally that affect our universities. This is what the Assembly and devolution are all about”.

Notes to Editors:

Lord Browne was appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to lead an Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance.

Joanne Stuart, Chairperson of the Institute of Directors (NI), was appointed by Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, to lead an Independent Review of Variable Fees and Student Finance Arrangements in the Northern Ireland context.

Sir Reg Empey, has announced that a steering group will look at these reports and that a public consultation on the future of student fees and finance here will follow their deliberations.

The Committee Chairperson is Mrs Dolores Kelly MLA

Deputy Chairperson: Mr Jonathan Bell MLA

Committee members:

Mr. Sydney Anderson MLA 
Mr. Paul Butler MLA 
Rev. Dr. Robert Coulter MLA 
Mr. Chris Lyttle MLA 
Mr. David McClarty MLA 
Mrs. Claire McGill MLA 
Ms. Sue Ramsey MLA 
Mr. Pat Ramsey MLA 
Mr. Peter Weir MLA

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