SDLP Brexit Spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said the DUP’s foolhardy pursuit of a hard Brexit is impacting young people’s futures.
He was speaking after the Assembly’s Economy Committee heard that measures including cutting university places, increasing tuition fees by nearly 60% and abolishing the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) were being considered to make up a £65m shortfall after the department lost £100m in EU funding.
Speaking in the Assembly on Monday, Mr O’Toole said young people should not face barriers in accessing education as direct result of failures from the DUP and other Brexiteers.
South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:
“The proposals brought forward at the Economy Committee last week have caused serious alarm amongst our young people and the higher education sector. The DUP have made a mess of this department for the last 15 years and now it looks as though their fanatical pursuit of the hardest Brexit possible will result in a huge funding shortfall and their plan is to pass the cost for this onto our young people.
“Every person in the North should be able to pursue their education to whatever level they wish and fulfil their full potential. Cutting apprenticeship training, university places, and EMA, while raising tuition fees will create serious barriers to education in the North. It will also result in less people receiving qualifications, with a knock-on effect for our entire economy.
“We were told by the DUP and other Brexit cheerleaders that leaving the UK would result in huge funding becoming available to spend on public services – the opposite has proved true and vital funding has been lost. The DUP has failed our young people and it’s galling to hear their leader Jeffrey Donaldson angling for a second job, when because of his party’s short-sightedness many people may struggle to get one.”