Simplify scholarships system 2

October 31, 2003

Queen's University Belfast's position on student financing is not as you report ("Prospect of English fees spreads fear of hardship", THES , October 17). It welcomes the government's acceptance that higher education is underfunded. It also accepts that it is unrealistic to expect additional resources to come from taxation.

Providing there is support for poorer students, it is not unreasonable to ask graduates to contribute to the cost of their education.

Asking them to do so when they have the means is more equitable than upfront fees. The higher education sector is crucial to the economy in Northern Ireland. If it is to compete effectively with other UK regions and internationally, it is essential universities here are funded at least as well as, if not better than, elsewhere. It is hard to envisage a situation where the necessary resources could be provided from the Northern Ireland budget alone.

Sir George Bain
President and vice-chancellor
Queen's University Belfast

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