BBC News

Queen's University, Belfast, to treble intake of international students

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

Published
media captionQueen's University, Belfast, has set targets for its staff to increase their intake of international students and the amount of research funding QUB faculties generate

The number of international students at Queen's University, Belfast (QUB) is set to almost treble, according to an internal presentation seen by the BBC.

QUB wants to increase the number of students from just over 1,500 to about 4,200 across its faculties by 2020.

International students pay much more in fees but their intake does not reduce the number of places available to students from Northern Ireland.

QUB staff have also been set targets for the research funding they generate.

Some faculties have been asked to double their research income, while staff have also been set individual income targets.

According to the document, each faculty has been set targets to increase the number of international students.

In 2013-14, for instance, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences had 510 international students, but by 2020 this is expected to increase to 2,020 students.

The other faculties - Engineering and Physical Sciences, and Medicine, Health and Life Sciences - are expected to at least double their intake to 1,243 students and 905 students respectively.

While students from Northern Ireland - and those from European Union countries - attending QUB currently pay £3,805 a year in tuition fees, international students can pay anything from about £13,000 a year to just over £33,000 a year for those taking specialist medical courses.

Places available for local students are capped, while places for international students are not.

QUB has also set targets for staff at each faculty to raise the amount of research income they generate.

Staff in Engineering and Physical Sciences are expected to more than double the faculty's research income from £19.6m to £38.6m.

In Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, research funding is also expected to rise from £30.1m to £60m.

Individual staff have also been set targets to bring in research grant funding as part of their job descriptions.

The BBC has seen some of these targets.

For instance, a senior lecturer in English is expected to generate £48,000 by 2020, and a senior lecturer in history £69,000, but a senior lecturer in Anthropology is expected to raise almost £200,000 over the same period.

Staff in all faculties have been set similar individual targets, and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) has expressed concern about the implications.

In a statement it said: "Queen's management needs to recognise that staff are stretched to their limits.

"A survey carried out by Queen's UCU indicates that 90% of respondents considered that the targets being set by management were excessive and beyond what was expected in comparable institutions.

"Setting very high income and other targets for staff under already under pressure is not the answer and risks severely damaging the morale of hard pressed and loyal staff and their confidence in management."

In April, QUB announced it was cutting 236 staff posts through a voluntary redundancy scheme, but last month it warned staff it may have to make compulsory redundancies.

An internal review into the future of QUB is also currently ongoing.

This is expected to report before Christmas, and may recommend the closure of some courses and departments.

QUB's funding from Stormont's Department for Employment and Learning was cut by £8m earlier this year.

Related Topics

  • Belfast
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • NI education