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Irish universities facing budget cuts

Posted on: Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Universities in Northern Ireland are facing severe budget cuts, according to new findings. 

The Department of Employment and Learning revealed that it has had around £16.1 million (8.4 per cent) cut from its annual budget over the next year.

Employment and learning minister Stephen Farry said he was worried about the impact that the budget cuts and the cap on tuition fees would have higher education institutions on Queen's and Ulster universities.

This monetary pressures were helping to reduce the competitiveness of third level institutions, according to Mr Farry.

He said: "Our universities are in a very perilous state at present. They have had their ability to generate income restricted by the decision of the Executive to freeze tuition fees.

"We have also now a situation where that structural problem has been compounded by further budget cuts."

These financial constraints could result in a restriction in the number of university places available.

It could also potentially dissuade potential investors, resulting in yet more financial cuts and limitations for both universities and students.

Mr Farry added that he was concerned about the possibility of a potential 'brain-drain' and price out other young people from Northern Ireland.

This could undermine certainty and confidence in the higher education system within the country, he warned.

He explained: "We have done extremely well over the past number of years but that situation is not sustainable if we are going to continue down the same road that we are on at present in terms of cutting our skills budgets."

During his speech, Mr Farry rejected calls from Sinn Fein to impose a target for the use of e-books in universities.