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Dickson Encourages Engagement with Public Consultation on Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loans

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed an announcement from the Department for the Economy for a public consultation on the Northern Ireland Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan. The consultation seeks views on the current system of postgraduate support for Northern Ireland students undertaking taught postgraduate study and discusses a several options for potential reform.

Mr Dickson said: “Postgraduate study is crucial for building the skills base of Northern Ireland. However, there are too many barriers at the moment for those wishing to engage in further study to do so – more support is needed, and this consultation is an important first step. I would encourage anyone with a stake to speak up now, and let your needs be heard.”

The options that the Department are positing are:

· Option 1 – Increase the maximum rate of the PGTFL and review every three years

· Option 2 – Increase the maximum rate of the PGTFL and automatically apply an annual increase in line with inflation

· Option 3 – Do nothing

· Option 4 – In addition to option 1, 2, or 3, extend the list of eligible/approved places of study to include approved institutions in the Republic of Ireland, as is the case for the undergraduate tuition fee loan

· Option 5 – Introduce subject-specific top-up grants

· Option 6 – Introduce a Postgraduate Maintenance Loan

· Option 7 – Introduce a Contribution to Costs Loan (in line with the English model)

The Northern Ireland Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan Consultation will be open from 26 April 2021 to 25 June 2021.

The full consultation document, including details of how to respond, can be found on the Departmental website here:

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