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Stalling over tap tax blamed for tightening of budgets in education

Public expenditure cuts are having an impact on education institutions across Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Telegraph asked the Association for Northern Ireland Colleges (ANIC), Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB) and the University of Ulster (UU) how budget cuts and the financial downturn is affecting them. We asked if they had plans for redundancies/department closures.

UU vice-chancellor Professor Richard Barnett said that the cuts have nothing to do with the UK’s public finances and blamed them on the Executive’s decision not to charge for public water.

He said: “In terms of the strategic capital investment fund, the University of Ulster’s allocation will fall from £6.9m to £2.5m.

“Essentially, in Northern Ireland we are choosing to pay for water by cutting health and education budgets.”

A QUB spokesman said that it had already taken action through the 2009 Academic and Financial Plan to deal with the impact of cuts in public funding in 2010-11.

The university announced details last year of a controversial plan to cut more than 100 academic and research jobs across all 20 schools in the university.

Meanwhile, ANIC — which represents the six colleges of further and higher education — has warned that it is not immune to the pressures of reduced funding.

ANIC chief executive John D’Arcy said: “The biggest threat is to part time recreational or leisure and non accredited courses as the colleges are determined to protect courses offering people essential skills.”

Recently Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey said: “We have no plans at the moment to reduce recurrent funding to the FE sector.

“However, that does not take into account what may emerge after the election.”

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