Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Data
176. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the amount allocated and also needed for demographics, which relates to higher education funding in each of the years 2010 to 2021, in view of the recent Cassells report in which is quantified the provision needed for demographics for higher education as including an average 1.7% increase per year – c. 3,000 students (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11990/17]
In Budget 2017 I secured, for the first time in nine years, additional funding for the sector of €36.5m for 2017. This includes an allocation of €14m towards anticipated demographics increases in the sector. €160m additional funding overall over the next three years has been agreed.
Increasing the level of funding to the sector is a key concern for my Department, particularly in light of the expected increases in the number of students expected over the next decade or so - a point that is clearly set out in the Report of the Expert Group on the Future Funding for Higher Education. As the Deputy will be aware, the report is currently with the Oireachtas Committee for consideration and following its deliberations it is hoped to put in place an agreed approach as to how the sector should be funded in the long term.
In addition, in Budget 2017 the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I, announced a policy review with the aim of designing and implementing a sustainable and predictable multi-annual funding model for higher and further education and training involving increased Employer and Exchequer contributions from 2018. The review will be undertaken as part of the overall response to meeting the anticipated skills needs in the economy over the coming years, in line with the policy framework set out in the National Skills Strategy.
It will include an analysis of the business case for enhanced investment in the higher and further education and training sectors and of the most effective funding mechanisms to deliver outcomes in respect of our ambitions in this area. In this context it will identify key elements of the new funding model and of the expected impacts including those on employers. The review will include consultation with stakeholders which it is intended will commence in early March 2017. It is expected that the policy review will be published by the end of April 2017, and will complement the ongoing work by the Oireachtas Committee in relation to the Cassells report.