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Education cuts will inflict long lasting damage to our economy says Queen’s Vice Chancellor

Queen's President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Greer has warned that planned cuts to the Higher Education budget will have a fundamental and dangerous impact on the Northern Ireland economy that could inflict long lasting damage on its prosperity.

Professor Ian Greer was responding to reports of plans to reduce the higher education budget. He said: “We already lose 34% of our young people (approx 5000) every year to universities in Great Britain and less than a third of those ever come back home. This not only has a devastating effect on families but brings real and present dangers for our economy. The HE Sector in Northern Ireland has had a 40% cut in funding since 2011 while other regions and jurisdictions have had significant investment. This approach is unfair to both students and staff many of whom are currently taking industrial action for better pay and conditions.

“Our highly educated workforce has been at the cornerstone of efforts to attract investors and employers to Northern Ireland, current regional policy is forcing many of our talented young people to seek their education elsewhere because our system does not allow them a choice to remain at home and study in a local University. This approach is causing lasting damage that will take years to recover from.

“If implemented the budget reductions will leave Queen’s with no option to reduce the number of places that we can offer as that is the only way that we can absorb cuts, unless the Government can come up with a sustainable funding approach. The sector is willing to work in partnership to find solutions but discussions on how to agree a new approach need to start now”.

“It is a demographic fact that there will be a surge of 18-year-olds by the end of this decade, and we need to offer approximately 5,000 extra university places across the Northern Ireland HE sector just to stand still, so the impact of these cuts will have a fundamental and dangerous impact on our future.

I am urging our politicians, business leaders, community leaders and policy makers to work in partnership with the sector to reverse this highly damaging approach. Today’s action is tomorrow’s legacy and unless we invest in our young people’s education and provide them with the opportunities to stay at home to contribute positively to our society and economy then the next generation face a bleak future."


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