Norhern Ireland student funding cuts examined

student fundingColleges Northern Ireland, Chief Executive, Gerry Campbell, stated that there was a need to consider the full picture when looking at Northern Ireland student funding. 

He stated that ‘it is true that there has been a £1.3million reduction in the amount available from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) for the Hardship Funds over the period 2009/10 to 2014/15.  However, this needs to be considered in the wider context.  During the same period, the amount of money available, per annum, through the FE Awards has increased from £3.9m to £5.9m.

Furthermore when we look at the two schemes combined[1] – the amount of money given out to students in 2009/10 was £6.83m whereas by 2013/2014 this had increased £7.40m[2].  This excludes other sources of student support available through the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), childcare support through Care to Learn as well as the Additional Support Fund (ASF) which supports students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

The Colleges actively promote such funds to all students through their prospectus’, student handbooks, student diaries, college website and intranet – this is an addition to the proactive approach in terms of pastoral care taken by student activity officers, campus service and student finance teams.

The six regional FE colleges across NI have a retention rate of 89% and an achievement rate of 87% – this is despite around 43% of learners coming from the most deprived wards in NI – with some individual Colleges attracting as many as 54% of students from the most deprived wards.  The Colleges will continue to proactively promote all sources of finance to students to ensure these retention and achievement rates can be sustained if not improved upon’.

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