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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 19:57 GMT
Student tuition fees set to rise
Plans to raise student fees have proved contentious
Tuition fees for students in Northern Ireland are set to rise to 3,145 a year, in line with inflation.

An attempt by members of the Assembly's Employment and Learning Committee to halt the 75 increase was rejected by 51 votes to 39.

Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey said a freeze would harm local universities.

Committee chair Sue Ramsay argued fees should not rise until after the impact on falling numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds was reviewed.

Sir Reg said local universities would have a 2.5m shortfall in the next academic year if tuition fees did not rise, but a review would begin next year.

He said it was too early to gauge the impact of tuition fees, but figures suggested that more people from Northern Ireland were entering higher education.

Ms Ramsey said the UUP and DUP were "selling our students short" by voting for an increase.

"Voting through this increase is wrong, and the argument that it would interfere in a future review is bogus," she said.

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