Northern Ireland

Minister warns over university funding

The NI minister for employment and learning has warned universities and students that tough times are ahead and economies are likely.

Sir Reg Empey said almost 60% of his department's budget, more than £500m, goes into university education in NI.

He has told the universities not to expect further growth after what he described as five years of increased funding.

Sir Reg said: "The days of growth from public sources was coming to an end."

He said: "We will try and work with them but we want to make clear to students and universities that it will not be possible for my department to continue to fund along the lines of the last five years."

In response, a University of Ulster spokesperson said it "was alert to the changed financial climate".

Budgets

The spokesperson said it had already reduced "the recurrent budgets of its faculties and administrative departments for the coming 2010/11 academic year".

In a statement, Queen's University said that it was "effectively managed and governed".

The university said it had already taken action through its 2009 Academic and Financial Plan, to deal with the impact of cuts in public funding in 2010/11.

In April, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson detailed £367m of cuts throughout 2010.

But further cuts will be required in the autumn when the government announces it plans in the Comprehensive Spending Review.