NI graduates face higher interest on student loans

University graduates on graduation day

The Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) said it will have to consider the Browne review of higher education before it launches a public consultation on tuition fees.

The review, which is published on Tuesday, is expected to call for the cap on fees to be removed.

Since the fees are collected by HMRC it is likely any changes in England could be mirrored in Northern Ireland.

A separate review carried out by DEL into fees is yet to be published.

Currently all graduates pay a low interest rate, linked to the base rate, on their tuition fees and loans.

DEL has carried out its own review of tuition fees chaired by Joanne Stuart. That review is with the minister but has not been published pending the publication of the Browne review.

A spokesperson for DEL said on Monday that any recommendations by Lord Browne would need to be considered by the Minister prior to a public consultation.

"Joanne Stuart's review looked at issues which are within the gift of the devolved administration and taxation is not one of those issues.

"The level of tuition fees in Northern Ireland is ultimately a matter for the assembly."

Mr Empey is due to brief the Assembly on the implications of the Browne Review on Tuesday.

UK TUITION FEES

  • England, Wales, Northern Ireland: Max £3,290 pa
  • Scotland: Free to Scottish and EU students, £1,820 pa to other UK (£2,895 for medicine)
  • Students from elsewhere in the EU pay the same as those locally
  • Students from outside the EU pay whatever the university charges

In England ministers had been considering a system of tiered interest rates, tied to graduates' earnings.

This may have meant higher rates for higher-earning graduates.

But the BBC understands ministers are now moving towards charging most graduates a flat, market rate of interest on their loans, with only graduates on low salaries enjoying the lower rate.

The threshold for paying the money back would be raised from the current level of £15,000.

There would also be pressure on universities to provide more bursaries.

The earnings level at which graduates start repaying loans may also be raised.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Northern Ireland stories

RSS

Features

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back


  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6


  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?


  • Lotus 97T driven by Elio de AngelisBeen and Gone

    A champion F1 designer and other notable losses


  • A poster of Boris Nemtsov at a rally in St Petersburg, Russia, 1 MarchWho killed Nemtsov?

    Theories abound over murder that shocked Moscow


Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.