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Student fees could rocket to over £6,000 in Northern Ireland if government funding not provided, warns Queen's

Student fees in Northern Ireland could rocket past the £6,000 a year mark if the government fails to stump up the cash needed, it has been reported.

The BBC on Tuesday reported on an internal Queen's University document in response to the Northern Ireland Executive's programme for government (PFG).

Queen's says that given inflation and reduced public funding there is a gap of between £900 and £2,500 per student and depending on the course taken.

Students currently pay £3,925 for to study in Northern Ireland.

Three options were costed and put forward by Queen's, which it said would reverse the cut in student places and would be fair to students.

Those options were:

  • Additional government funding of £27.5m and tuition fees of £5,200 a year
  • Additional government funding of £14.6m and tuition fees of £5,700 a year
  • No additional government funding and tuition fees of £6,300 a year

In its published response Queen's said it there was a £55m deficit in funding for local universities in the money they get from the government and what they need.

After budget cuts, 2,000 student places at Queen's and Ulster University were cut, the south Belfast institution said.

"This is unsustainable,"  Queen's said in its response, "if the Executive wishes to transform Northern Ireland into a globally competitive knowledge economy and to attract increased levels of foreign direct investment."

It added: "The University strongly welcomes the additional £20m of funding allocated to higher education, further education and skills by the Minister of Finance as part of the June 2016 monitoring round.

"This investment, if consolidated into recurrent baselines going forward, will allow us to begin the process of addressing the current funding shortfall. However, the higher education sector requires further, sustained investment to support the ambition of the PfG and the growth of a successful knowledge economy."

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