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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 05:28 GMT 06:28 UK
Package to aid mature students
Degrees will be awarded by Queen's University in Belfast
Measures will improve access to higher education
Mature students in Northern Ireland are to benefit from an aid package announced by the newly re-appointed higher education minister Dr Sean Farren.

The package will aid up to 3,000 mature students and is aimed at widening access to third level education.

Mature students will be able to avail of an income-assessed school meals grant for their children.

Those who are earning money from part-time employment will see an increase between 820 and 7,500, in the income they are allowed to earn, before it is taken into account in assessing entitlement to student support.

Announcing one of his first measures following the restoration of the power-sharing executive, Dr Farren said the measures would help improve Northern Ireland's competitive edge.

"It is vital to the future success of the Northern Ireland economy that we develop the people we need to compete in the 21st century," he said.



Dr Sean Farren: Measure will improve access to higher education
He said the measures would give full-time mature students a "better chance" to gain access to university and to complete their courses.

"These new measures will be of help to lone parents who in the past may have lost their entitlement to income support when they entered higher education."

The income-assessed school meals grant will be worth around 250 per child.

The Department of Higher and Further Education is currently conducting a consultation exercise on student finance in Northern Ireland.

Proposals emanating from the review are expected to be published in late Summer.

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