Northern Ireland Conservatives’ spokesperson, Annika Nestius-Brown, has asked for clarity over the executive’s policy on university tuition fees.
“The first and deputy first ministers recently committed to keep tuition fees in Northern Ireland at £3,200 per year. Now the minister for higher education, Stephen Farry, says that a freeze cannot be guaranteed until the executive decides how to plug a £40 million budget shortfall. Parents and students are understandably confused: what exactly is the executive’s position on tuition fees?”
“This lack of communication tells us a lot about the current set-up at Stormont. Not only did Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness clearly fail to discuss this fees issue at the executive table, it seems they didn’t even consult Stephen Farry, who is the minister responsible, before delivering their unfunded policy commitment as a fait accompli”.
“Robinson and McGuinness seem to have no idea where the money to freeze fees will come from, yet they still attempt to make executive policy up on the hoof, by decree, like a pair of generals in charge of a military junta.”
“Who should the people in Northern Ireland believe? Stephen Farry, who says that there is currently no money to make up the shortfall, or the first and deputy first ministers, who say that fees will be frozen regardless?”
“Collectively, the executive better get its story straight, because parents and students want to plan ahead for their futures and voters everywhere want to know which other services will be cut, if tuition fees are to remain at the current levels. They all deserve a bit of clarity and some honesty from the politicians at Stormont”.