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Higher Education

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will make a statement detailing what figures or estimates are available to him on the likely inflow to Northern Ireland in coming years of higher education students from the Republic of Ireland, following the European ruling with regard to payment of fees for European Community nations;(2) if he will make a statement outlining what assessment the Government have made of the repercussions on demand for student places in Northern Ireland of the new European Community arrangement; and whether such trends in demand will influence Government planning in relation to courses, college development or grants;(3) if he will make a statement indicating whether the Government have plans to seek, with authorities in the Republic of Ireland, the establishment of mechanisms to regularise, control or facilitate entry to higher education courses in Northern Ireland by students from the Republic of Ireland in the light of European Community arrangements.

It is too early to gauge the long-term effect on participation in higher education in Northern Ireland, or indeed in the United Kingdom generally, of the Government's decision to reimburse the fees of EC students. For the foreseeable future the planned provision for higher education in Northern Ireland will be able to respond to demand from home, EC and overseas students, and we have no plans at present to establish new entry mechanisms for students from the Republic of Ireland.