Question Time Employment and Learning - Monday 29 October 2014

The Employment and Learning Minister, Stephen Farry, answered questions on a number of matters including obstacles to cross-border undergraduate education, work placements, and initial teacher education.

Phil Flanagan MLA asked the Minister for an update on his efforts to remove barriers to North/South mobility at undergraduate level. The Minister stated that " A key part of that project is addressing the relevant recommendations from the Irish Business and Employers Confederation and the CBI joint business council study of obstacles to cross-border undergraduate education.  In particular, my Department’s Careers Service continues to build the knowledge of its advisers to ensure that students are fully informed about opportunities in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. An anomaly on student finance has been resolved, and, since 2013, students from Northern Ireland studying in the Republic of Ireland have had access to a repayable student contribution loan and other financial support.

The assessment of number of work placements in the North Down area that are available to students at the South Eastern Regional College was another area the Minister had to answer questions on. The Minister said " According to the college, 1,141 students and trainees participated in work placements in the 2013-14 academic year as part of their programme of learning.  In addition, the college has extremely good working relationships with employers in its area and engages with over 5,000 employers to obtain relevant work placements as close to students' homes as possible.  The process of obtaining, monitoring and evaluating work placements takes significant effort from the college but is a key element of the student experience and an integral part of their study.

Further Education, Skills Training in West Tyrone, Student hardship Funds, Apprenticeships and Sign Language Classes made up the questions asked to the Minister during the 15 minutes of Topical Question.

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