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Vice-Chancellor urges NI Executive to invest in young people to reap long-term economic benefits

The calls for action follow the new London Economics report which shows higher education institution income for students in NI is 25% less than England.

Professor Sir Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast, has urged the returning Northern Ireland Executive to make a long-term investment in young people to achieve a thriving economy. 

Reflecting on the new London Economics report which shows higher education institution income for students in NI is 25% less than England, Sir Ian said that immediate action was needed to prevent the so-called ‘brain drain’. While many of our talented youngsters stay here, 30 per cent of students - around 5,000 in total - are lost to universities in Great Britain, with projections that will double by 2030. 

He said: “Some of these young people decide to go through choice, but many are leaving because we don’t have enough student places to offer in our universities. And with only 30 per cent of those who go away returning, that is an enormous loss of talent to our economy. 

“One of the major factors is the Maximum Student Number (MaSN) cap which limits the numbers of students we can enrol from the island of Ireland and we believe that the new administration should implement a sustainable funding model for higher education in order to remove this so that more young people can stay and study here. 

"We recognise there are many financial challenges facing our politicians and we wish them well in untangling all of the problems that lie ahead and are committed to working with them to address these. But we would urge against short-term fixes in relation to the economy – long-term investment in higher education will reap its rewards. 

“Providing young people from across our society with necessary skills will ensure they can play a significant role in keeping our economy in an upward trajectory.” 

Pointing out that Queen’s contributes an economic value of £3.2 billion a year, delivering a benefit-to-cost ratio of 8:1, he added: “we strongly believe that the sector is a wise long-term investment.” 

Queen’s University is ranked as the second leading university in the UK for entrepreneurial impact, its current portfolio of 42 active spin-out companies currently employ over 3,500 people. 

Overall, the University has developed in excess of 100 companies with an estimated combined annual turnover of circa £500 million. 

Over half of Northern Ireland’s public companies, which are high growth ventures that have been listed on the London Stock Exchange, have come out of Queen’s. 


Media enquiries to Queen’s Communications Office via email: or tel: (028) 9097 3091