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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 19:11 GMT
Sharp drop in first year students
NI has seen a 9% drop in the number of first year students
The UCU (University and College Union) has blamed higher tuition fees for a dramatic fall in the number of students beginning degree courses.

The latest figures show a 9% drop in the number of first year students in Northern Ireland in 2006/07.

In England, there was a 2% fall while Scotland and Wales showed increases of 4% and 3% respectively.

Overall, the number of people enrolling at UK universities was actually up by 1%.

The University and College Union says the figures clearly show that where top-up fees of 3,000 were introduced, there has been a fall in interest, but nowhere as dramatic as in Northern Ireland.

Scottish and Welsh students do not pay so-called tuition fees unlike their English and Northern Irish counterparts.

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