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Ulster University hits out at proposal to cap students from England during coronavirus pandemic

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Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party

Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party

Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party

Ulster University has hit out at government plans to limit the number of students from England who can study in Northern Ireland.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds and her counterparts in Scotland and Wales have reacted angrily to a temporary cap on the amount of students from England studying in their universities, saying it was beyond the government's jurisdiction.

The move was announced last month to prevent over-recruitment to make up for lost revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson from Ulster University said they shared Minister Dodds' "shock and concern" at the development.

"Having worked closely with the Department for the Economy on measures designed to promote UK-wide sector stability, this move is likely to cause further disruption and confusion for university applicants," the spokesperson said.

"We call on the UK Government to cooperate with the devolved administrations in the interests of sector stability across the UK and not just in England."

A total of how many students from England study at Ulster University was not available yesterday. Almost 1,000 students from England study at Queen's University Belfast, with a spokesperson saying they were confident it would remain an attractive option. "Queen's University's priority is to meet the needs of NI at this particularly important time as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic," they said.

Alliance MP and former Employment Minister Stephen Farry said Stormont should have had a say in the decision.

"Choice and the movement of students across the UK and further afield has been a cornerstone of higher education for many decades," he said.

"There are of course Covid-19-related distortions that do have to be managed to avoid certain institutions absorbing the majority of what may be, for this incoming year's constrained demand, with a resultant detrimental impact on other higher education institutions.

"However, these need to be addressed on a UK-wide basis, in consultation with all the devolved administrations, not unilateral action."

The current measures would see intake capped for each institution's 2019/20 totals plus an extra 6.5%, which the government has stated is more than a "fair share" of students coming from England.

Belfast Telegraph