Province pays for breakdown

January 3, 1997

Higher education in Northern Ireland, already heavily underfunded, is paying the price for the collapse of the peace process. The province's two universities and its colleges are suffering in the latest budget share-out because of the increased costs of security.

Discretionary and postgraduate student awards are also to be cut and discretionary support for teachers taking courses to obtain additional qualifications has been withdrawn.

Funding for research at Queen's University, Belfast and the University of Ulster has been reduced by Pounds 4 million next year with subsequent reductions in the following two years.

Queen's vice chancellor Sir Gordon Beveridge said the university is in financial crisis. He contrasted the Pounds 4 million research reduction to higher education in England and Wales which has received a Pounds 100 million funding boost. It was a disastrous blow, he said.

The cuts came as Queen's received top ratings in the research assessment exercise for its research on cancer, ageing and diet. Sir Gordon said the university system was breaking down.

UU vice chancellor Sir Trevor Smith said secretary of state Sir Patrick Mayhew was cutting off the lifeblood of the universities' research programmes. And pro vice chancellor Fabian Monds said the result would be more young people leaving the province.

But Sir Patrick said no sector could avoid the impact of the ending of the IRA ceasefire and the province-wide violence which accompanied the loyalist stand-off at Drumcree during the summer. He said the "peace dividend" had been reversed.

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