Northern Ireland's assembly has voted for the creation of a separate department for higher and further education. Senior civil servants are to transfer and there will be a new permanent secretary, writes Noel McAdam.
The move increases the number of departments from six to ten. It has been welcomed and speculation is rife about which party will field the province's first minister for universities and colleges. Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party are frontrunners. The department will include vocational training, employment services and law, and labour relations.