The president of NUS-USI, Robert Murtagh, has backed a call by the Economy Minister for more national support for the local higher education sector. He says that students need a Student Safety Net and the UK government needs to commit additional funding to support the sector.
“The higher education sector in NI is facing real financial uncertainty as a result of COVID-19 for a number of reasons, including the risk of a substantial loss of international students. This shows that relying on international students to plug a public funding gap created over the last 10 years is not a sustainable way to fund higher education.
“We support the Economy Minister’s call for Westminster to work with the NI Executive to ensure funding is made available to our higher education institutions to ensure their long-term viability.
“We want the UK government to commit to providing a Student Safety Net to ensure that students are able to either redo the year at no financial cost, be reimbursed if they have paid upfront or have their debt written off. We are also asking them to commit to a £60 million student hardship fund to ensure students are given proper financial protection during this crisis.”