Setback in Ulster

February 20, 1998

The position of this autumn's university applicants is confused by the legal and political situation on fees

INCREASING cross-border contact in Northern Ireland has been severely dented by the new tuition fees system and the abolition of fees in the south. The number of applicants from the Republic of Ireland hoping to study at Queen's University or the University of Ulster has dropped by a third on last year.

But their places are being taken up by local students who may previously have been forced to take up courses on the mainland.

Unionist leaders have long complained that Ulster students were being unfairly treated, as the influx of students from the south grew year on year. But the universities, and the Northern Ireland Office, were proud of cultural diversity.

The fall of 32.9 per cent in figures released by UCAS represents a drop of more than 6,000 applicants. Overall applications to the two universities have fallen by just below 11 per cent, about 2,000.

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