Northern Ireland

Minister Danny Kennedy's spotlight on NI tuition fees

The minister for employment and learning has said the issue of tuition fees in Northern Ireland will be dealt with as a priority.

Danny Kennedy's comments came after the government confirmed universities in England will be allowed to raise tuition fees up to £9,000 a year.

In Northern Ireland, fees are currently charged up to a maximum of £3,290.

Mr Kennedy confirmed he had held discussions with the Higher Education Minister David Willetts on Wednesday.

"Ultimately, any changes will require the support and the endorsement of the assembly and the executive, so we will work with the various stakeholders," he said.

"This is a priority issue for me as minister of employment and learning and I want to work constructively on this on behalf of everyone concerned."

Public Consultation

Lord Browne's review of the higher education system in England recommended the cap on tuition fees should be lifted.

The report, chaired by the Institute of Directors' Joanne Stuart, into NI tuition fees suggested that they stay at their present level. That report is now being reviewed in the light of Lord Browne's recommendations.

Mr Kennedy welcomed the decision announced on Wednesday to retain the cap on tuition fees in England.

"I have this week, of course, already indicated to the assembly my intention to retain a cap in Northern Ireland," he said.

"Joanne Stuart's updated report and the forthcoming public consultation will help determine the level of the cap in Northern Ireland.

"It will then be a matter for the assembly to legislate for this. Nothing will, or can be done on this without the approval of the assembly."

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