| 11.9°C Belfast

Stormont Economy Minister Dodds 'wholly opposed' to cap on number of students from England coming to NI

Close

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

PA

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

A move to limit the number of students from England who can go to university in Northern Ireland has been strongly criticised by a Stormont minister.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said it was unacceptable to impose a cap on English-domiciled students heading here in September.

England's Department for Education plans to cap the number of undergraduates that universities in England can teach in 2020/21.

It plans to extend the cap to include English students applying to higher education elsewhere in the UK.

But the move has been opposed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Mrs Dodds said: "I am wholly opposed to DfE England's intention to impose a student number control on full-time undergraduate English domiciles at Northern Ireland's higher education providers this coming academic year 2020/21.

"I am shocked and concerned that another jurisdiction is seeking to control student numbers here in Northern Ireland and the impact that this may have on our local sector.

"This intention runs contrary to what had been agreed amongst the four UK administrations at the beginning of May in regards to a number of measures relating to admissions for 2020/21 under the UK Admissions Package.

"I believe that this proposal has the potential to break up the unified higher education market within the United Kingdom in terms of access to study based on student choice and academic achievement. It is a dangerous precedent to set and one I am wholly opposed to."

Mrs Dodds fears the proposal will damage local higher education institutions. "Local institutions will have already started to determine their recruitment of English-domiciled students without any indication that the new DfE England restrictions would be imposed on them," she added.

"For DfE England to bring this proposal to the fore at this stage in the recruitment and admissions cycle is not only unfair but unprecedented."

The minister has written to Universities Minister Michelle Donelan on the issue. The DfE said its aim was to bring stability to the higher education sector, during "an incredibly difficult time for universities and their students".

Belfast Telegraph