Following the budget announcement, NUS-USI has said that the Belfast region City Deal simply must involve additional funding for tertiary education, to deliver the skills to move the economy forward.
NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said: “The Belfast region City Deal could be transformational for the economy and for opportunities; however, it will only work effectively if additional funding is provided for further and higher education.
“It is crucial that more funding is allocated to tertiary education to deliver skills and qualifications for more people. Additional skills and qualifications provision here is essential to help meet skill needs of companies considering investing here. If we don’t have the numbers of people with the skills required by companies, we simply will not be able to attract the investment here. Additional public funding must be provided to not only close the higher education funding gap, but also to deliver extra student places.
“We also need to see greater investment in apprentices to encourage more people to apply for apprenticeships, and to encourage more companies to be involved in apprenticeship provision.
“Skills are the fuel that powers the engine of our economy, and we need to see significantly more investment in this vital component. To make the City Deal work, we need significant new public investment in our colleges and universities.”