Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Decision to cap under graduate numbers a mistake

26 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff have challenged the decision of British direct rule Education Minister Maria Eagle to cap the number of full time under graduate places in Higher Education - the Maximum Student Number (MaSN).

Mr McElduff said:

"This decision is a mistake. Not only should we be increasing the number full time undergraduate places, and very significantly in some specific areas such as medicine, nursing and medical sciences, but we must also recognise that there are significant financial barriers that are stopping people, particularly for more socially deprived backgrounds from accessing higher education opportunities.

"The stupidity of this decision is only further underlines by the publication of the Regional Economic Strategy for public consultation.

"All of the evidence on the economy and staff shortages within the health system require a response that is built on increasing educational opportunity right across the educational system.

"On the one hand David Hanson talks about sustaining 'high and stable levels of economic and employment growth' and priorities that will help achieve 'a high value-added, highly skilled, innovative and enterprising economy by 2015' and on the other hand Maria Eagle is intent on capping under graduate

"Fundamental to a more enlightened, radical and progressive approach is not just increasing student numbers but also tackling the recently imposed financial barriers that clearly act as a disincentive." ENDS

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