Next on the list of things for Stormont to do, lift the cap on University places…

Now after the U-turn, universities are now facing the cap on the number of places they can offer. Brendan Hughes reports in the Irish News that Queens now needs an extra thousand places.

Given this is an artificial government policy, it seems that there is a determination in the Executive to lift the caps, and stump up the cash. And it is going to be needed…

Prof Stuart Elborn from Queen’s University said it was awaiting confirmation of the new results from exam boards and the university admissions service UCAS.

“We’re waiting for either the exam boards directly or through UCAS to give us those grades so that we can then make a determination of the students that we can help,” he told the BBC.

He added: “We have already turned down over 1,000 students, a proportion of whom will become probably eligible and will meet the grade criteria, and we think that could be anywhere now between 500 and 1,000 individuals.”

Queen’s and Ulster universities usually have a cap each year of accepting between 3,000 and 3,500 new undergraduates from the north.

Prof Elborn said: “In the areas of high demand, such as computer science, medicine and the healthcare professions, we are already stretched beyond our limits and to be able to deliver in those high-demand areas we will need extra support and will work with the Department for the Economy and the Northern Ireland Executive to deliver this for this generation of students who have faced a very difficult time to get there.”

Both the Economy and the Finance Ministers have been making positive noises in this regard, but in fact, they don’t have much choice in the matter. All of this is in the category of the consequence of the consequences.

Given our kids have just forgone months of education from P1 and upwards, these consequences are going reverberate down the years ahead in ways that will need to be dealt with, but which our fantasy driven politicians may struggle to deal with.

Photo by ninocare is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA