Belfast Telegraph

SF: Education faces £40m hit in EU funding post-Brexit

By Noel McAdam

Schools and colleges in Northern Ireland could lose out on European funding worth almost £40m after Brexit, Sinn Fein has warned.

And students from here who want to take courses in the Republic are faced with tuition fees more than doubling from the current £3,000, it said.

Withdrawal from the European Union will also threaten the Erasmus-plus programme, which allows students to travel and study in other EU countries.

And there is "no guarantee" qualifications obtained here will be recognised in any European country, the party claimed.

Its manifesto for the general election, published earlier this week, argues that designated special status within the EU would safeguard the education system.

Party Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill said: "The way forward is for the North to have designated special status within the European Union.

"Sinn Fein believes that goodwill and flexibility at a European level means it is achievable in the coming negotiations if the Irish Government respects the decision of the citizens of the North on Brexit."

The manifesto says Brexit will cut almost £26m of Peace IV funding from 350 schools as well as funding for 7,000 'Neets' - young people not in education, employment or training.

It also says higher education colleges and other researchers have acquired £13.4m from the EU Horizon 2020 programme, but this access to funding will end with Brexit.

And it states: "Students from the North who wish to study in the South face the prospect of tuition fees levied at the international student rate." That is between £5,830 and £42,328.

Apart from education, the manifesto also warns Brexit will be a disaster for business, local farmers, the wider agri-food industry and for border communities.

There was no response from the other Stormont parties yesterday, who along with Sinn Fein suspended campaigning for the general election in the aftermath of the Manchester bomb.

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