18th Sep 2012
Welcome for access to education initiative
A new drive has begun to increase participation in higher education by Northern Ireland’s young people.
NUS-USI President Adrianne Peltz has welcomed the new “Access to Success” strategy launched by Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry.
Ms Peltz said it was is “good news” for all future students and for Northern Ireland’s education system, identifying and supporting towards higher education people in most need.
The new strategy includes projects aimed at raising the awareness, aspiration and educational attainment of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the development and piloting of programmes for disadvantage and disability application routes into higher education and additional support measures for students to sustain continuing participation in higher education.
“This positive progress is a real boost for students and provides recognition of the massive importance of widening access,” said Adrianne Peltz.
“Widening participation and greater identification of, and support for, people who need assistance will not only benefit those involved, but will also help us further grow our economy by helping more people reach their potential.
It’s very positive that there are sanctions within the document to ensure that universities and colleges live up to their responsibilities, and it is very pleasing that the department has the teeth to take action to encourage universities to up their game if necessary.”
Dr Farry said: “I recognise the importance of ensuring that we provide all our young people with the opportunity to benefit from higher education, and last year the Executive agreed to freeze tuition fees levels for local students at local institutions and to sustain the level of funding of the higher education sector.
There remain some stubborn pockets of underrepresentation from low participation/ high deprivation areas and I am committed to developing further our approach to widening participation in Northern Ireland.
This is based on a future vision of the sector in which the people who are most able, but least likely to participate, are given every encouragement and support to achieve the necessary qualifications to apply to, and benefit from, higher education."