Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Participation
55. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to address the inequalities seen in the league tables of students' accession to universities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1299/17]
The data referred to by the Deputy actually serve to highlight the significant progress being made in supporting disadvantaged students to progress to third level.
For example, the analysis of the data indicates that a significant number of non-fee paying schools are achieving considerable success in terms of supporting their students to progress to higher education.
Specifically, over the past 6 years, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of non-fee paying schools where all Leaving Certificate candidates proceed to university or another third level college.
The National Access Plan for 2015-19 contains more than 30 actions that are intended to increase representation in higher education by under-represented groups. These include students from low-participating socio-economic groups, learners with disabilities, mature students, and Travellers.
Implementation of the National Access Plan is being supported by investment of more than €410 million in the 2016/17 academic year. This provides a range of supports such as the Student Grant Scheme, the Student Assistance Fund and the Fund for Students with Disabilities.
In addition, I secured an additional €8.5 million, arising from Budget 2017, for access measures. As well as the reinstatement of maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged postgraduate students, this new funding will support a number of innovative new measures targeted at disadvantaged students:
- A new centenary bursary scheme will provide bursaries of €10,000 for 100 disadvantaged students each year.
- Higher Education Institutions will receive additional funding to attract 2,500 more disadvantaged students by engaging directly with disadvantaged communities.
- New measures will be introduced to support more lone parents to participate in higher education.