Northern Ireland preparing to follow Scottish tuition fee lead

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Plans that will allow Northern Irish universities to charge non NI students up to £9000 per year for university courses are reportedly being drawn up by Assembly officials.

The move, which mirrors a similar scheme introduced in Scotland, is in response to fears of a soaring demand for places from English students who have had fees imposed by the Tory Lib Dem coalition if they wish to study at English universities.

Currently students at Northern Ireland’s two universities, Queen’s and the University of Ulster, pay a flat fee of £3000 per year; this fee is due to rise in line with inflation and the effective cap will lead to a shortfall of £40 million.

The legislation which is being prepared by the Department of Employment and Learning would require Assembly approval.