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Assembly to debate student fees


10/12/2007 :: Northern Ireland :: BBC News

Controversial plans to try and raise student fees are to be debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey wants to increase tariffs in line with inflation.

However, a group of assembly members has tabled an amendment blocking the motion.

Sinn Fein's Sue Ramsey said: "The majority of the parties opposed student fees in their election manifestos and many called for their abolition."

"On this basis it is incumbent on us to oppose any increase in student fees."

Tuition fees would rise by £75 a year to £3,145 under the Department of Employment and Learning proposals. Ms Ramsey added: "The evidence shows that the introduction of students fees has had a significant impact on students studying in our universities, on rising levels of student debt and on the falling numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds taking third level studies."

The SDLP is also expected to oppose the change, West Belfast member Alex Attwood said: "A fees freeze is the right decision for students and parents.

"Fees, loans and other student debt is the triple threat to access for all to higher education."



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