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Concern over future of St Mary’s University College

20 April, 2008

Sinn Féin's Further Education Spokesperson Paul Butler says that Reg Empey and the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) are trying to impose new funding arrangements that will lead to the closure of St Mary's College in West Belfast.

Mr Butler said:

"I am concerned about the way Reg Empey and DEL are treating the college and there is a perception that they are not doing enough to secure its' future. St Mary's is an integral part of Greater West Belfast and it is essential that it has a future to help regenerate and transform West Belfast.

"Reg Empey attended a meeting of the Employment and Learning Committee in March to discuss the funding of St Mary's College and the number of teacher training places at the college. The new funding model for the college proposed by DEL will mean the closure of St Mary's if it were implemented. The model being would link funding to numbers while at the same time the department is trying to limit student numbers.

"St Mary's Director of Finance Brian McFall told the Committee last week that the college was facing a £1 million deficit in the next two years.

"Last week's announcement that Stranmillis College will merge with Queen's University will only add to the concerns that the Minister and DEL will try and impose a funding arrangement that will make St Mary's College unviable.

"Sinn Féin are opposed to any plans to close St Mary's College the college's future must be secured and Reg Empey and DEL must come up with proposals that secure a central role for the college in the promotion of teacher education." ENDS

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