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Explanatory Memorandum to Higher Education (Northern Ireland) Order 2005

Imposition of conditions as to fees

14.Article 4 gives the Department power to impose conditions under the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 and the Further Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 so that when making grants to the higher education institutions it imposes the following condition:

  • For institutions with an approved plan, the condition is that the fees payable do not exceed the amounts specified in the plan, and also that the institution complies with the rest of the plan. The fees set out in the plan may not exceed the fee cap set by regulations, referred to in the legislation as 'the higher amount'.

  • For institutions without an approved plan, the condition is that fees do not exceed the 'basic amount' (equivalent to the present standard fee) which will also be specified in regulations.

15.The condition must set out that, for institutions with an approved plan, if the fee limit in the plan is exceeded; the Department is to impose financial sanctions relating to the institution's grant, unless fees exceed the higher amount. In that case, in addition to any sanction imposed, the Department may impose further sanctions, the principles governing which will be set in regulations. In addition, where the conditions of the plan other than those relating to fee levels are breached, the Department may also impose financial requirements.

16.Similarly, the Department may impose sanctions on any institution without an approved plan which charges fees higher than the basic amount.

17.Article 4 (7) covers the exclusion of international students from the provisions limiting fees.

18.Article 4 (8) provides that the basic and higher amounts are to be prescribed by regulations made by the Department.

19.Article 4 (9) places restrictions on the Department’s power to discriminate between certain classes of courses in prescribing descriptions of courses covered by these sections, and disapplying some elements of previous Orders with respect to these sections.

20.Article 4 (10) provides that the first regulations setting the basic and higher amounts must be laid in draft and approved by a resolution of the Assembly. The same procedure will apply to any further regulations increasing the basic amount by more than is needed to keep up with inflation.

21.Article 4 (11) also provides that once the first set of regulations setting a higher amount have been made, that amount cannot be raised in real terms until 2nd January 2010 at the earliest. After that date, regulations raising the higher amount in real terms can only be made once a resolution has been passed in the Assembly that the amount should be raised to a specified level.

22.Article 5 makes a transitional provision which prevents fees above the basic amount being charged for students receiving offers of a place in 2005, whether for immediate entry or for deferred entry in 2006, or for students unable to accept a place in sufficient time because of the delay caused by a successful appeal against A-level results affecting entry to higher education.

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