Thursday, 29 June 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Charges
123. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reduce the student contribution charge in third level education; his views on an organisation's (details supplied) call for the charge to be reduced by a minimum of €250; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30595/17]
Based on the number of students that qualified for free fees funding in the academic year 2014/15, and taking into account overall expected increases in student numbers, it is estimated that the net cost to my Department of reducing the Student Contribution by €250 would be €17m. This figures takes into account the resulting reduction to my Department's Student Grant Scheme budget.
While the student contribution now stands at €3,000, it is important to recognise that the state pays this contribution (or part of it) on behalf of almost 50% of undergraduate students. Tax relief provisions are also available so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost. In addition, higher education institutions have provisions in place to allow students to pay the contribution in two moieties.
With regard to future investment in the higher education sector, the report of the Expert Group on the Future Funding of Higher Education is currently being examined by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills with a view to making recommendations on a long-term sustainable funding model for higher education.
I have also taken immediate steps to increase funding for higher education with increased Exchequer funding of €36.5 million secured in Budget 2017 for the higher education sector, the first such increase in nine years.