Barriers for cross-border students must be removed
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has called for increased awareness of the opportunities available to students living along the border corridor in places like IT Sligo, Letterkenny IT and Dundalk IT.
Speaking after raising the issue with officials from DEL's Careers Service at a meeting of the Employment & Learning Committee, Mr Flanagan said:
"There are a considerable number of barriers restricting the ability of young students in the north to take up a university place in the rest of Ireland such as the recognition of qualifications and financial arrangements.
"Many of these are long-standing complex problems arising out of the unnecessary duplication and back-to-back planning brought about by partition. These could be complex to resolve without removing the border.
"One of the most glaring problems is that of careers advice for young people in our post-primary schools. Getting information on the southern system can be like pulling teeth as careers’ advisors and teachers are not fully across the detail.
"I raised the issue with representatives from the Careers Service in DEL and they have indicated that work has taken place to improve the awareness of opportunities in the south among careers advisors.
"For people living along the border, the potential to start and finish a degree close to home in institutions like IT Sligo, Letterkenny IT and Dundalk IT has never been properly promoted. As a result, the numbers of students crossing the border remains relatively low.
"I recently engaged with representatives from Sligo IT to explore ways in which greater numbers of Fermanagh students can avail of degree programmes in a facility that is within commuting distance.
"Offering degree programmes closer to home and creating jobs for these young people has to be a priority for all of us in the coming period." Ends/Críoch