Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, today learned how the US has been improving university and college completion rates.
As part of his four day visit to Washington DC, he met with Complete College America, which was founded to dramatically increase completion rates in the US.
The Minister shared Northern Ireland's experiences with CCA president Stan Jones and compared this with American experience.
Sir Reg said: "While Northern Ireland has relatively good college and university completion rates when compared to the US, I am not prepared to accept a complacent approach to current drop-out rates. Each failure to complete a university or college course is a waste of public money and deprives an individual of economic and educational opportunities.
"Complete College America stresses the crucial importance of student welfare support in addressing drop-out rates and the need for colleges and universities to reconsider their teaching structures so as to promote retention.
"I was pleased to be able to share the experience of our own excellent Step Up programme in Northern Ireland, working with secondary schools to promote the aspiration for university and the skills that will encourage course completion."
The Minister continued: "Amidst the ongoing debate on Lord Browne's proposals, I have stated my determination to protect and further enhance Northern Ireland's widening participation record. Closely related to this is the need to ensure students complete their courses. This makes a vital contribution to social mobility and economic competitiveness.
"I am grateful for the experience Complete College America shared with me today - another example of how US and Northern Ireland colleges and universities can learn from each others challenges and successes".
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