Alliance Education and Learning Spokesperson Councillor Michael Long has expressed his party’s continued opposition to top-up fees and tuition fees in the Alliance response to the Higher Education in Northern Ireland consultation paper.
Alliance’s response was released a day after the decision to introduce top up fees in England and Wales went through the House of Lords. Cllr Long also hit out at the nature of the consultation process, claiming that the point of the exercise for the Government appeared to be to ensure a predetermined outcome.
Cllr Long said: “On the day when top-up fees came a step closer to England and Wales, Alliance has publicly released our response to the Governments’ plans for higher education in Northern Ireland. We remain opposed to tuition fees and the introduction of top-up fees, as this will continue to place barriers in the way of those from lower income backgrounds wanting to enter further education.
“Alliance believes that increased public spending is the best way to make up the shortfall that exists. We would also back increased support from the private sector and an extension of philanthropic efforts.
“However, given the nature of the questions posed in the paper and the discussions that we have had with the Government, we can only conclude that it is only paying lip service to the concept of consultation. The Government appears to be trying to ensure a predetermined outcome to the process, despite widespread opposition in Northern Ireland to their proposals from across the political spectrum and influential bodies like, such as the British Medical Association.
“The way the Government is trying to railroad these proposals through is yet another good reason for bringing back devolution and getting rid of our remote control ministers.”
See following link for Alliance Party response to the consultation paper by the Department for Employment and Learning: http://www.allianceparty.org/showconsultation.asp?id=22