McLaughlin: Economic self-sabotage of MaSN cap must be reversed

further education higher education Sinéad McLaughlin MaSN cap

SDLP Jobs and the Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has said the UK Government must work with the Executive to abolish the MaSN cap.

Ms McLaughlin was responding to the findings of a new report from Westminster's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on investment.

The Foyle MLA has written to the Secretary of State to ask for an outline of what steps the British Government will be taking to work with elected representatives in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government to lift the MaSN cap and properly fund higher and further education.

Ms McLaughlin said:

“The conclusions drawn by this report could not be clearer - investment in higher education through lifting the MaSN cap is a crucial lever that we must use to combat the ‘brain drain’ and attract investment in our economy. It should be at the core of a strategy to boost higher level skills, particularly in places like Derry that have been left behind for too long.

“Lifting the economic self-sabotage of the MaSN cap and funding proper university provision represents a crucial step in addressing the decades of chronic neglect that our city has suffered and allowing it to finally realise its potential. The ongoing refusal to do so is cutting off investment, hindering growth and contributing to hugely detrimental skills shortages in key industries. Universities in the North are crying out for this investment so they can play their part in stemming the flow of thousands of young people every year who leave our shores to seek opportunity elsewhere.

“The SDLP is firmly committed to holding the British government accountable to ensure everyone who wants to study at a university in the North has the opportunity to do so, in order to develop the skilled workforce that can meet the demands of our growth sectors. I have today written to the NI Secretary of State to request a response to the call contained within this report and an outline of what steps they will be taking, including by working with the Irish Government, to invest in higher and further education in the North.

“Lifting the MaSN cap and expanding higher education should also go hand in hand with increasing higher level vocational skills including through ensuring that future funding is aligned to the Skills Strategy and growth sectors, as well as reforming the apprenticeship levy so that businesses can see a fair return on their investment and more young people are afforded the opportunities they deserve.”

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