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Student threatens legal action over tuition fees hike

By Amanda Poole

A student from England is threatening to take the Northern Ireland Executive to court over its stance on tuition fees.





Abel Middlebrough from Worcestershire alleges the Executive is discriminating against English students and he is considering using human rights legislation to prove his point.

The 18-year-old decided to defer his study until 2012, after accepting a place at Queen’s University.

Since that decision, the fees he is expected to pay have risen from £3,500 to £9,000 and over the course of his study, he will be liable to pay an extra £16,500.

Abel says Universities Minister Stephen Farry’s announcement that students from England, Scotland and Wales could be charged up to £9,000 to study here is discrimination.

“It’s wrong, it’s blatant discrimination and it seems to be being put there for no reason,” Abel said.

“Having to pay £27,000 instead of about £10,000 is going to have a big effect on my finances and it came completely out of the blue.”

Mr Middlebrough also pointed out that at around 150 students, it’s only a relatively small number of people from the rest of the United Kingdom who choose to study in Northern Ireland.

On September 14, the Belfast Telegraph reported that students from the rest of the UK would not have parity with local students and highlighted that legal action may be a consequence.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Employment and Learning said: “The Department is bringing forward legislation which would enable higher education institutions to set fees above the cap of £3,465 for students in England, Wales and Scotland.

“Our legal advice indicates that the policy proposals are lawful.”

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