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Queen’s University’s call for higher fees is deeply irresponsible

Tuesday 26-07-2016 - 12:42

NUS-USI President Fergal McFerran and Queen’s Students’ Union President Seán Fearon have condemned the leadership of Queen’s University for calling for a rise in tuition fees in Northern Ireland.

Fergal McFerran called the Queen’s proposals deeply irresponsible and said Queen’s should reflect on the fact that its Vice Chancellor earns more than double what the First Minister does, instead of calling for more debt to be dumped on students.  

President of NUS-USI, Fergal McFerran, said: “This is extremely troubling development because any increase fees could have a devastating impact on students. Placing even more debt on students could also significantly damage the economy as well as damaging universities here. Queen’s University in calling for fees to increase could create a situation where student numbers here drop dramatically because increased fees would likely mean a massive drop in the numbers enrolling in Queen’s and other institutions here.

President of Queen’s Students’ Union, Seán Fearon, said: “The Queen’s University proposal to increase tuition fees will only drive the export of our school leavers to universities elsewhere, increasing ‘brain drain’ in the region. Tuition fees are not affordable for our young people or for the region, with graduates this year starting out in life burdened by nearly £20,000 in debt.”

“If we wish to increase social mobility and see our young people realise their life ambitions and potential on these shores, we must then offer them a higher education system that is free at the point of access, publicly funded and fit for purpose.”

President of NUS-USI, Fergal McFerran, said: “Queen’s University has a long and proud history of shaping the community around it, it is a respected institution with a strong basis in research. That is what makes it even more incredible that the leadership of the university has decided to call for a rise in tuition fees. The arguments against fees are clear; socially, morally and even economically. You do not build a strong economy by lumping debt on students. You cannot enhance social mobility by creating more barriers to tertiary education. 

“It saddens me to say it, but Queen’s University is losing touch with its purpose in our society.

“Given that Queens University's Vice Chancellor embroiled himself in a crisis around making insulting comments about some history graduates, how can anyone take what the institution is saying on fees seriously?

“Maybe Queen’s University should reflect on the grossly inflated salary its vice chancellor receives, which is more than double that which a First Minister receives, instead of trying to dump more debt and higher fees debt on students.

“Just because Queen’s says they want this doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen, far from it because we have made a compelling case for the scrapping of tuition fees and free education was an option in a recent government paper on the issue. NUS-USI will simply not tolerate any increase in tuition fees and the student movement is ready and willing to oppose any such move.”

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