Ulster Unionist Chair of the Stormont Employment and Learning Committee Robin Swann MLA has said that news of a significant grant reduction for the University of Ulster is ‘only the tip of the ice-berg’ in terms of the overall predicament of the budget for Universities in Northern Ireland
Robin Swann said
“An additional fact that has not been highlighted is that the Minister is proposing a £7.4million reduction to the annual block grant allocation to the four main Universities and University Colleges. That is a cut of 3.95%. At the recent committee meeting with Minister Farry I asked if the cuts to the budget would further erode our competitive position in regard to universities"
I noted that in his reply the Minister seemed to downplay the importance of the cut. He said, “The cut that we have levied against universities in year is about 3•95%, so it is less than the 4•4% that the Department is experiencing. We have had no choice but to pass on a large element of cuts to the universities, but it is coming in at a lower rate than the figure for the Department. That will be for the universities themselves to manage, and, again, they have to face up to that on an in-year basis. That may well pose some challenges for them.”
Given the concerns raised by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster, I think that the Minister has been somewhat underestimating the challenges posed to the Universities. This is a very serious situation and the cuts imposed on the University of Ulster are only the tip of the iceberg.”