Sinn Féin Higher and Further Education Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson has said that the plans of the British Labour government to introduce top-up fees will introduce the marketplace into universities and discourage people from disadvantaged backgrounds from taking up university opportunities.
Mr Ferguson said:
"Sinn Fein are opposed to introduction of top-up fees. We believe that education is a basic right. Tuition fees should be abolished and the student loan should be replaced with a proper maintenance grant.
"The British Labour government plans to introduce top-fees are yet another stealth tax. Sinn Féin believe that education should be paid for through a progressive general taxation system.
"The way that the British government have approached the problem of increasing resources for universities and increasing access is deeply flawed. It will lead to the introduction of the marketplace into our universities and a two-tier third level education system. It will also act as a further barrier to expanding access to universities particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"This fiasco highlights a deep flaw at the heart of British government education policy and the failure of the previous Employment and Learning Minister to deal with it's impact here. We need to look at how be develop our workforce here so that it is able to drive forward a modern economy. This means that we need to widen access and it means that we need to support people financially across all the third level education options." ENDS