Student places and funds top Northern Ireland Assembly agenda

January 21, 2000

Northern Ireland further and higher education minister Sean Farren is poised to set up a review of student finance.

At the first formal question time in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr Farren said that he would announce the terms of a review

in the near future and it would

be carried out "expeditiously". He voiced concern at the disproportionate number of Protestant students leaving to study on the mainland but, under pressure from the unionist benches, he side-stepped calls for an inquiry into the "brain drain" involving Protestants specifically, suggesting it was an issue for all political parties.

Mr Farren has been involved in several meetings with Queen's University, Belfast and the University of Ulster. The perennial problem of the lack of student places (put at 5,000 by Dearing) was "at the forefront of my department's concerns", he said.

Asked whether he would seek to implement Cubie report recommendations, Mr Farren said he had read them. His officials would soon be travelling to Edinburgh to talk to their Scottish counterparts.

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