Following the announcement of Northern Ireland’s budget, NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said the Department for the Economy must adjust investment priorities to deliver additional funding for tertiary education and apprenticeships, to help protect Northern Ireland from potential negative impacts of Brexit.
NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said: “To give Northern Ireland a chance of withstanding the significant economic problems that Brexit will undoubtedly bring, more investment must be diverted towards skills and tertiary education.
“We must see the Department for the Economy change its investment priorities to decrease funding for Invest NI, and allocate more resourcing to our universities, colleges and apprenticeship programmes.
“NUS-USI is extremely concerned about the devastating impact of Brexit upon universities and FE colleges, as EU research funding, vital apprenticeship funding from the European Social Fund and current student opportunities in Erasmus+ may all be lost.
“We desperately need to grow apprenticeship provision in Northern Ireland, not see provision largely shut down as a result of Brexit.
“We need investment that helps move tuition fees to zero, so that our universities can continue to be student-centred world-class institutions, instead of being forced to become profit-margin focused businesses.
“If Invest NI’s funding from the Department was reduced by a fifth, this would provide very significant additional resources to invest in further and higher education, and would help grow our economy.”