Farren snubs report recommending fee axe

November 24, 2000

Sean Farren, Northern Ireland's minister for higher and further education, has attacked "deficiencies" in a report on student finance that recommends axeing tuition fees and reintroducing grants.

Esmond Birnie, chairman of the assembly's higher and further education, training and employment committee that produced the report, said they wanted to see a system of student support similar to Scotland.

The report recommends axeing fees and introducing means-tested grants, with graduates earning more than £25,000 contributing to an endowment scheme to benefit incoming students.

Dr Farren said the report was weak on costings, the question of equity, and the needs of part-time and further education students.

The Northern Ireland Assembly approved the committee's report and called on Dr Farren to implement the recommendations. But student leaders accused Dr Farren of a "fixation" with maintaining parity with the student support system in England and feared he would simply ignore the report.

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