[Sinn Fein]

17 August 2000

Students being forced out of Six-County education system - Nelis

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Mary Nelis has said that the silence of the Further and Higher Education Minister, Seán Farren, on the issue of student grants and tuition fees in the Six Counties is ``unacceptable''. Ms Nelis said:

``It is very disappointing that on the day that students are receiving their A-Level results and are being faced with a number of difficult choices regarding their future that the Stormont Further and Higher Education Minister, Seán Farren, has chosen to remain silent on the issue of tuition fees and student grants.

``Both the introduction of tuition fees and the removal of grants has meant that anyone wishing to go into further and higher education is faced with the very real possibility of getting themselves into severe debt before they are even out of their teens. As a result, many of those who are less well off are having to give up their university places.

``This clearly amounts to discrimination against the working class. This can only have a negative impact on our society as a whole. It is a fact that many young people are being punished because of their family's financial situation. They are being driven out of the education system. The silence of the Further and Higher Education Minister can only be interpreted as an acceptance of this discrimination. This is an unacceptable.''

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