DAERA seeks views over future fees at CAFRE

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has today launched a consultation document seeking the views of the public on how it supports and funds Further Education at CAFRE.

The consultation is the result of a review undertaken by the department that looked at support and charging policy for Further Education courses at CAFRE.

As well as making recommendations to improve support policy for Further Education students, the review also recommended that the current policy of not charging for Further Education courses is maintained at CAFRE.

This consultation invites the public to provide their views on this recommendation. It seeks views on:

  • Extending support to part-time Further Education students for books and equipment associated with their part-time study;
  • Increasing the maximum amount of grant available to Further Education students;
  • Raising the lower income threshold for Further Education grants;
  • Reducing the higher income threshold for Further Education grants; and
  • Maintaining the current FE charging policy.

Publishing the consultation today, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA said: “The future of our agri-food sector relies on having a steady supply of people entering and working in the industry.

“In order to successfully manage agri-food businesses, these people must also commit time and effort to develop their knowledge and skills.

“A major component of CAFRE’s education programmes is its Further Education course provision which helps students get their first start in the agri-food sector.

To help them overcome any barriers to accessing these courses and allow them to focus on their studies, CAFRE provides means-tested support to full-time Further Education students.

“The consultation launched today looks at the policies underpinning that support. Are they still fit for purpose, do they support those most in need?

“In particular, given the NI Executive focus on upskilling and my own commitment to lifelong learning, is there more that we can be doing to support part-time students who are balancing the dual pressures of work and study?

“CAFRE is renowned throughout the agri-food industry for the provision of highly-skilled students. 92% of Further Education graduates gain employment, or continue with third-level education within six months of graduating.

“To enable this excellent achievement to continue, it is right that we constantly review the services and support available to students across CAFRE campuses.”

The consultation closes on September 11, 2020.