Belfast Telegraph

Colleges expecting surge in demand

Competition for university places is set to spark a rise in demand for entry in to Northern Ireland's higher education colleges, it has been claimed.

With A-level results due this week, and GCSE results next week, the body representing the six regional colleges, Colleges Northern Ireland, said some campuses are already reporting a huge increase in demand.

They are expecting a further push for higher education (HE) places from young people unable to get into university, claiming cheaper fees for degree courses is an added attraction.

Colleges Northern Ireland chief executive John D'Arcy said: "Colleges are braced for a surge in demand, particularly for higher education places.

"Media reports suggest that our local universities will be turning away thousands of disappointed students and that there will be far fewer places available through the clearing process, meaning there will be fewer places across the UK for Northern Ireland students.

"There are clear attractions to studying HE at one of our local colleges - it is significantly cheaper and, with new evidence showing how difficult it is for university graduates to get jobs, the colleges offer a far bigger range of work-based HE options.

"There are huge pressures on the public purse and increasing demand for more work-focused learning.

"The only viable long-term solution to the financial pressures and the demands of the economy is to shift resources into our colleges and move more HE provision into the colleges."

There are currently over 10,000 HE students across the six colleges and 3,800 full-time HE places available on first degrees, two-year foundation degrees which combine academic study with the skills needed for the workplace and Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs).

Colleges Northern Ireland said that one of the attractions to studying HE at one of its sites is that it is significantly cheaper than going to university - claiming that full-time HE students at a college typically save £2,000 per year.

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