Student leaders in Northern Ireland have condemned the Government for transferring unexpected savings of Pounds 1.8 million from the student support budget to the maintenance budget for schools and further education colleges.
The move comes as initial local education and library board figures suggest that around Pounds 180,000 could be cut from their discretionary student awards. The National Union of Students/Union of Students in Ireland says any savings should be used to offset these cuts and increasing college access funds.
A DENI spokesman said it was one-off spending. Initial estimates of student support spending by the local education and library boards and the Student Loans Company had fallen over the financial year. "All we're doing is trying to make use of it in a way that keeps money in the system rather than being lost," he said.
Peter O'Neill, manager of the NUS/USI centre, said the budget should have been spent fully to promote access.