Third level education funding 'is untenable'
The model for funding higher education in Northern Ireland is no longer sustainable, the Employment and Learning Minister has warned.
Stephen Farry said action was needed to ensure the future of third level education as he launched what he termed a "big conversation" about the way ahead.
Almost 40% of the income of higher education institutions in Northern Ireland comes from public funding, the highest proportion in the UK.
In the current financial year the institutions are having to absorb a £16 million cut to that funding and student places and courses have already been slashed as a consequence.
Mr Farry said NI universities were now underfunded compared to counterparts in England to the tune of between £1,000 and £2,500 per student.
Tuition fees are currently capped here at around £3,700 per year.
The minister said he was not entering into the "innovative" public engagement exercise with any one solution in mind.