Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Essential that classes remain accessible to older people

4 September, 2007

Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MLA Mickey Brady has said that it is essential that learning opportunities at the new Southern Regional College remain accessible to older people and that the reason given to him by the College for imposing huge increases in the fees made no sense at all.

Mr Brady said:

"The Southern regional college has claimed that it is imposing these increased charges for over 60's registering for vocational and non-vocational courses in a misguided attempt to comply with the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (NI) 2006 Act.

"Yet, this act was designed expressly to prevent discrimination AGAINST older people.

"These price hikes where rushed in as the colleges amalgamated to form the Southern Regional College. Yet, they have not been implemented across all of the other new regional colleges. Why is it that the older people here are now being expected to pay these increased rates?

"It is particularly frustrating that non-vocational courses are covered by these fee increases because they are expressly excluded from this legislation. Any changes to entry conditions for these courses are completely arbitrary.

"Actions such as these will do nothing but increase the sense of isolation many of our older people feel especially when faced with large institutions, as highlighted by the recent report from Help the Aged. The report showed widespread support for an end to age discrimination and many older people indicated that they felt their age negatively affected the way they are treated and even how they are spoken to.

"This move will make courses at the college less accessible to older people and it throws into question the claim of the College be committed to the ethos of accessible life long learning was now in question." ENDS

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