Friday, 16 October 2015

Transcript of Employment Minister, Dr Stephen Farry's Twitter Q&A on Higher Education Big Conversation

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, hosted a Twitter Q&A on Friday 16 October. He answered 32 questions in the hour and the transcript is below.

Minister Farry now online taking your Higher Education Big Conversation questions. I'll start with questions submitted in advance. #askHE

Question 1 

@roywhite_ni: @niexecutive @NI_CRC How much do English Univ, comparable Queens&UU, get per student, via Gov grants & Student Fees #askHE


@roywhite_ni English unis receive (roughly) between £9k and £10k per student, depending on subject; NI is between £6.5k and £9.5k #askHE

Question 2

@hannahtorney #AskHE What are your thoughts on having subsidised fees for courses that would benefit the economy? STEM etc?


.@hannahtorney Could be an option. STEM key to economy, subsidising them now will not solve current funding issues. #askHE

Question 3

@lucy_s_michael: Dr. Farry, how do we stop NI universities moving twds casualised teaching which devalues role of expert staff? #askHE


.@lucy_s_michael We want NI unis to attract the best expert, research-engaged staff. A sustainable system can support this. #askHE

Question 4

@jjdalzell:.@StephenFarryMLA how do you rationalise an active HE disinvestment strategy relative to the substantial economic benefit from NI HE? #askHE


 .@jjdalzell I don’t rationalise it. HE is crucial for economic growth. That’s why we need to agree a sustainable solution #askHE

Question 5

 @rosscatt1: What hope is there of addressing poverty through growing a knowledge economy if the funding to HEIs in NI is slashed?#askHE


.@rosscatt1 Disinvestment is a risk to the economy. Investing in skills supports economic growth #askHE

Question 6

Pete_mullin43: @niexecutive Is an increase in tuition fees inevitable? #askHE


@Peter_Mullin43 There are lots of options, and not all involve higher fees. We need to find a solution right for Northern Ireland. #askhe

Question 7

@missdrums01: #askHE can you guarantee there will be uni places when I return to education? family of 3 and one on the way... or will i have to move away?


.@missdrums01 There will be places, but there may be fewer without a sustainable solution. I want to ensure adequate routes to HE #askhe

Question 8

@missdrums01@niexecutive #askHE do u think shrinking uni places will cause elitism in student places bc u want NI uni's to excell and invite intl's only


.@missdrums01 International students cover their own costs. They don’t impact on local provision. #askHE

Question 9

@antheirwin: How does closing courses at @Ulsteruni fit with providing access to a breadth of education in Northern Ireland? #askHE


 .@AntheaIrwin Course provision is a matter for @Ulsteruni. I want a sustainable solution to ensure adequate routes to HE #askhe

Question 10

@lucy­_s_michael: How will the loss of so many student places @UlsterUni and @Queens_Belfast affect aspiration in this generation in NI? #askHE


.@lucy_s_michael Loss of uni places highly regrettable. A sustainable solution supports wider participation #askhe

Question 11

@antheairwin: Won't closing courses at @Ulsteruni lead to increased numbers of our young people leaving NI involuntarily? #askHE


.@AntheaIrwin Fewer local places may lead to more people leaving NI. I want a sustainable solution to ensure adequate routes to HE #askhe

Question 12

@gorettihorgan: If UU is a regional Uni, why are all redundancies in Ulster Business School to come from Magee and Coleraine? #askHE


.@gorettihorgan All job loss regrettable but for universities to manage #askhe

Question 13

@FergalMcFerran: .@niexecutive Does Minister Farry accept that raising tuition fees in England has made an unsustainable funding system even worse? #AskHE


.@FergalMcFerran It delivers resources to institutions but raises other challenges. Understanding impact of English decisions is key #AskHE

Question 14

@Fermanaghautisminfo: #askHE 70% of ASD kids go to mainstream sch yet only 15% of ASD adults are in FT paid employment. What more will you do to halt this fail?


.@FermanaghAutism We have good DSAs in unis but open to how could do better. Plus Disability Employment Strategy out for consultation #AskHE


Question 15

@ved017: will closure of UU mod langs negatively impact on HE internationalisation agenda #askhe


.@ved017 All course closures regrettable. But international agenda still strong. Other means to provide language skills for business #AskHE

Question 16

@gorettihorgan: How will the loss of so many student places @UlsterUni and @Queens_Belfast affect aspiration in this generation in NI? #askHE


.@gorettihorgan Our universities remain a great option. We also have amazing new higher level apprenticeships plus strong FE #askhe

Question 17

@bridgesbb:@niexecutive Is there a cross-border dimension to student funding which could be explored to support development of the Magee campus? #askHE


.@BridgesBB We can discuss cross-border collaboration on provision but we also need to expand student flows in both directions #askhe

Question 18

@misstwice: @niexecutive what exactly does a 'sustainable solution' entail, please? #askHE


.@MissTwice It means sufficiently resourced to address the needs of the economy and society. Must be long-term. #AskHE
Question 19
@fergalmcferran:.@niexecutive Does the Minister believe that as a collective the Executive recognises the value of HE in N. Ireland as he does? #AskHE



.@FergalMcFerran Yes. Very significant issue. Need a long-term solution that has cross-party support. #AskHE

Question 20

@daydreamerkidx: what do you consider to be a "sustainable solution"? We can't end up like England/Wales or USA with students facing astronomical debt #askHE


.@daydreamerkidxx It means resourced to address needs of the economy & society. Not for students to carry full cost. Must be longterm #AskHE

Question 21

@antheirwin: What does @Ulsteruni s proposal to close Modern Languages courses mean for inward investment and a global outlook for NI? #askHE


@AntheaIrwin Inward investors look for a range of skills. There are a range of business language courses still available #askhe

Question 22

@lucy_s_michael: @niexecutive @AntheaIrwin Dr. Farry, are you saying that modern languages are not important to inward investment? #askHE


@lucy_s_michael @AntheaIrwin No they often are but there are many options for providing what is required, including both HE and FE. #AskHE

Question 23

@antheirwin: If a @Ulsteruni course is cut from the only campus accessible to a student, won't they be denied a university education? #askHE


.@AntheaIrwin Support is available to help students with travel costs. Course consolidation is a consequence of budget constraints #askhe

Question 24

@gorettihorgan: Have we stopped worrying about the "Brain Drain" from NI? Will we now force even more of our young people to Universities elsewhere? #askHE


.@gorettihorgan No. Good if young people can expand their horizons but real dangers that people don’t return #askhe

Question 25

@missdrum01: #askHE are u working strategically with other depts to plan& execute bringing jobs/investment for longterm employment here?


.@missdrums01 Yes DEL works with InvestNI & others to support inward investment and job creation especially Assured Skills programme. #AskHE

Question 26

@ved017 how is widening participation agenda to be facilitated with cuts - esp if this is a metric in forthcoming TEF? #askHE


.@ved017 Widening Participation remains a priority. Still holding unis to account. But cuts carry risks. #AskHE

Question 27

@ved017: #askHE does the minister have an idea of a model of sustainability he would like to apply here? if so, can he give us a hint?


.@missdrums01 Big Conversation is in order to inform options for Executive. Not for students to carry full cost. Must be long-term. #AskHE

Question 28

@morelandrj: @niexecutive #AskHE Higher demand is forcing out applicants from poorer backgrounds. How does this fit with Widening Participation?


.@MorelandRj We know the dangers of cuts, hence the need for the Big Conversation to get long-term solution. #AskHE

Question 29

@thomascarvill: @niexecutive Why does the broken student finance system rely on the parent's income, ignoring the student's own earnings? #AskHE


.@ThomasCarvill It relies on student’s entire household income. #AskHe

Question 30

@stevedonnelly95: Do you agree sustained investment in, and upskilling of, the labour force in the north west is crucial to alleviating poverty here? #askHE


.@SteveDonnelly95 Yes. There are so many social and economic reasons for investing in skills across a broad front. #AskHE

Question 31

@fergalmcferran:.@niexecutive With societal division estimated to cost over £1billion annually, is HE & FE losing out due to political failures? #AskHE


.@FergalMcFerran I have been highlighting these distortions to our resources in NI for well over 10 years. #AskHE

Question 32

@jackierrr: @niexecutive @MissTwice How can social/economic needs be met if those who can't afford to study in UK are denied a uni education? #AskHE


.@Jackierrr @MissTwice We have many other pathways including FE and apps. #AskHE
#Askhe That’s it. Thanks for taking part in the HE Big Conversation Twitter Q and A. Keep the conversation going at

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