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Universities: International Students

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 3:00 pm, 25th October 2016

It is an aspect of the ongoing negotiations that will see the UK exit the European Union. The Department will have an interest in and feed into the overall negotiations to help to ensure that Northern Ireland gets the best possible outcome. Interestingly, the number of non-EU international students now slightly outweighs the number of EU students. That would not have been the case a number of years ago. The universities are, rightly, looking to not just their own neighbourhood but to Europe and the wider world.

The funding position has been assisted by the Chancellor's recent announcements on securing Horizon 2020 funding right up to and beyond leaving the European Union. It is another issue that will be sorted out in the negotiations. I point out to the Member, as I have to the House before, that Horizon 2020 is available to many states — I think that there are about 12 — outside the European Union. The state that benefited most per capita from FP7, which was the predecessor to Horizon 2020, was, I think, Israel. There are clear opportunities for states not in the EU to benefit from such funding arrangements, as well as from whatever Her Majesty's Government may put in place to replace, or perhaps as an additionality to, Horizon 2020.