SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has slammed the decision by the Department for the Economy to cut the allocation for higher education by £14m in its draft budget for 2023/24.
She was speaking after meeting with senior representatives from Queen’s University Belfast on challenges facing students and staff in the institution.
Ms McLaughlin commented:
“It’s farcical that the Department for the Economy is proposing to slash higher education funding by £14m at a time when we should be investing in our young people and their skills as key drivers of the economy. I will be responding to the department's budget consultation making clear my strong objection to the proposed cuts and the damage they will cause to our economy.
"This will do nothing to stem the flow of thousands of our young people who leave our shores every year in search of university places and a better life across the water. It is clear that we need a sustainable funding model for higher education so we can finally lift the Maximum Student Numbers cap and allow more young people to study right here in Northern Ireland.
“I also took the opportunity to discuss the ongoing impact of the marking and assessment boycott on students at Queen’s. Many students are rightly frustrated by this action which has resulted in some being unable to graduate with their full titles or classifications. I hope to see a local resolution reached which will allow staff to end the boycott and allow as many students as possible to graduate unaffected.
“We also discussed the need for regional balance in our university provision. I look forward to further engagement in the weeks and months to come with Queen’s and the whole of the tertiary education sector.”