Extra student financial support and alignment of tuition fees announced by Minister Poots

Date published: 01 April 2021

The Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced a new package of financial support for Further Education (FE) students at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

Daera Minister Edwin Poots
Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA

He has also brought future fees for Higher Education (HE) courses at the college from 2022 onwards, into line with all the other universities and colleges in Northern Ireland. The move means that full and part-time students; undergraduate and post-graduate students studying different degree courses at CAFRE will all be treated the same.

The increase in financial support to FE students will mean an increase in the amount of grant available, the introduction of new support to part-time students and an increase in the household income threshold for means-tested grants, ensuring that more students will be eligible to claim the maximum grant.

“We know that during this pandemic many students are facing hardship so today’s announcement on additional support will be welcome news for them and will also help to remove any financial barriers for others who are considering further education as their next step. This support package represents an additional annual investment of £230,000 and will benefit all eligible FE students from September 2021,” explained Minister Poots.

“The maximum level of means-tested financial support, available to FE students will increase by up to £1,000 and will better reflect the current cost of living, helping students to meet expenses such as travel, food, equipment and accommodation.

“For the first time, support will also be extended to part-time FE students who previously were not eligible. This should help those already working in the sector who wish to upskill and continue their professional development,” he added.

Fees for Higher Education (HE) courses in agriculture, food, equine, horticulture and rural business disciplines have also been reviewed and brought into line with those at Northern Ireland’s universities and colleges.

“CAFRE provides a world class education and is renowned throughout the agri-food industry for turning out highly valued and highly-skilled graduates in agriculture, food, horticulture, equine and rural business,” said Minister Poots.

“Following reviews and a public consultation, I am announcing the introduction of a new tuition fees framework for the academic year 2022/23. This will mean that full and part-time students and undergraduate and post-graduate students will be treated the same as those studying at other local colleges. And importantly, it will end the fees disparity across the different degree courses offered by CAFRE.

“It is a fairer approach meaning that all students at local universities and colleges will pay the same rate for their courses and fully recognises the value of a degree obtained at CAFRE,” he added.

“Our economy is very dependent on the agri-food industry which in turn relies on the skills and knowledge of the people in that sector. This new tuition fees structure for students at CAFRE will properly reflect the true value of CAFRE degree courses which underpin this important sector,” the Minister concluded.

Notes to editors: 

  1. From September 2021 the living expenses grant will be extended to eligible part-time FE students for books and equipment associated with their study (up to £400 maximum/year);
  2. From September 2021 the maximum amount of living expenses grant available for full-time FE students residing at home and travelling to the College each day will increase from £1,659 to £2,400 annually; the maximum amount of grant available for students residing on campus or in lodgings nearby will increase from £2,362 to £3,400 annually.
  3. From September 2021 the lower household income threshold below which FE students are eligible for maximum grant will be raised to £27,330 from £23,660 (to be reviewed 2024). The upper household income threshold will be maintained at its current level of £52,622.
  4. The cost of delivery of FE courses at CAFRE will continue to be met in full by DAERA.
  5. From September 2022 a revised HE honours undergraduate tuition fee policy for home students at CAFRE that aligns with the maximum of the DfE HE tuition fee framework and maintains tuition fee parity with HEI’s in Northern Ireland (moving from £1,735 currently to £4,530 per annum);
  6. From September 2022 a revised HE foundation degree policy for home students that maintains parity with other FE colleges in Northern Ireland (moving from £1,735 currently to approx. £2,500 per annum);
  7. From September 2022 a new HE postgraduate tuition fee policy for home students at CAFRE with a tuition fee set at 50% of the maximum postgraduate tuition fee loan amount with a review of this policy in academic year 2025/2026 (£2,750 per annum);
  8. From September 2022 a new HE part-time under- and post- graduate tuition fee policy for home students that sets a tuition fee that is commensurate with the full-time fee based on course intensity.
  9. CAFRE HE Students enrolled before September 2022 will remain on the current HE tuition fee framework.
  10. In this current academic year there is 633 students are enrolled on higher education courses at CAFRE (416 on full time courses and 217 on part time courses) and 1,039 students enrolled on further education courses (375 full time and 654 part time).
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