Following the recent revelation that prospective students may face stiffer competition for places at Northern Ireland’s two universities next year, the Students Union at Queen’s are this week stepping up their ‘Stop Del Cuts’ campaign to reverse the proposal.
There may be 1,100 fewer places in September 2015 due to financial pressures at Stormont. The proposal comes after the Executive’s draft budget revealed that £82m will be axed from the Department of Employment and Learning. This 10.8% cut means that Queen’s University and the University of Ulster are considering the possibility of reducing their student intake – even though both institutions are already over-subscribed with applications every year.
The number of undergraduates that QUB can educate is capped by the Department at 11,510. According to the Student’s Union, tuition fees could also rise while some schools and subjects may close.
Vice Chancellor at Queen’s, Professor Patrick Johnston has already warned of the dangers that this cut will directly have within Northern Ireland, both in the lives of young people and to the wider economy.
In a statement issued to The Scoop this week, Professor Johnston said: “We are now in a period of consultation on the draft budget accepted by the Executive. I would encourage your listeners to submit their comments on this budget within the consultation period which ends on December 29.”
So while there’s still time to stop the cuts going ahead, action must be taken over the next month to prevent students losing out next September.
As a result, Queen’s Students’ Union has jumped into action and is urging the Assembly to reconsider the proposed cuts. Their ‘Stop Del Cuts’ campaign aims to ensure that QUB’s current 23,000 students aren’t affected and that prospective students won’t be forced to study elsewhere.
In recent weeks they have created a social media campaign #stopDELcuts on Facebook and Twitter to show students feedback and keep everyone updated on the campaign. They have also been encouraging students to sign their petition in the Students’ Union foyer and to send letters to their local MLAs to make sure their voices are heard loud and clear.
The main focus of the campaign is the Stop DEL cuts rally which is happening on the front steps of the Union building this Tuesday, December 2 at 12 noon.
Student Officer for Education, Hannah Niblock says it’s important to have as many students as possible showing their support for the campaign on the day.
“This is going to be a show of strength and support following our recent survey at one of our Pop-Up SU Events which showed that only 50% of students knew about the proposed cuts. However, once they did they were all opposed to the plan so we hope to see all of them and many more out in force on Tuesday,” she told The Scoop.
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