Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has said that Minister Stephen Farry is taking a regressive step in removing the grants offered to students from the North studying in the South.
Mr McElduff said,
“Many students, particularly those in border areas would like greater opportunity to study in institutions in the South due to the proximity of these colleges and the range of courses offered.
“Rather than encouraging students to maximise their education this move will discourage people from pursuing their education.
“Sinn Féin believes that access to education should not be based on an ability to pay but simply on the ability to learn. We have opposed fees North and South in fact our Ministers moved to block any increases to these fees in the Executive.
“In a joint report recently published IBEC and the CBI highlighted the low level of the mobility of students across the island as a major obstacle to economic growth and prosperity yet rather than address this issue Stephen Farry has exacerbated it by adding further hurdles.
“Rather than putting up hurdles Stephen Farry needs to be working towards integration of the two systems on the island by ensuring Leaving Certs and A Levels are equal and that career teachers are skilled up to present the options across the island.
“I see this is a violation of the North South co-operation outlined in the Good Friday Agreement and Sinn Féin will be raising this matter within the Assembly at the earliest opportunity.”