Tuition fee hike ‘unacceptable’ - Gardiner

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner.

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner.

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Proposals to increase university tuition fees to as much as £6,300 per year are completely unacceptable, Derry SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner has said.

Colr. Gardiner said the SDLP’s call for a reduction in tuition fees and an increase in student places to halt the wholesale export of our most talented young people must be heeded.

She said: “Students and their families will be really concerned to hear that university fees may be increased. Fees are a real barrier to higher education, particularly for people who are already experiencing financial hardship.

“Increasing fees will obviously deter people from going on to third level and would prevent equality of access.

“What the North West region needs is more people in higher education and more places at university – not fewer. Expansion of student places at Magee to ten thousand is essential for economic development and jobs in this region. Proposals to increase fees will be a further obstacle to the expansion of the Magee campus. Many people locally just won’t be able to afford the fees.”

Colr. Gardiner added: “The cost of expansion of the university sector should be a strategic investment by government. Students should not have to carry the burden of cost for this regional investment.”

SDLP Education Spokesperson, Colin McGrath, speaking this week, said: “The disinvestment that we’ve seen across higher education institutions, particularly in student places, poses a very serious threat to our economic recovery.”