Wednesday, 25 October 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Funding
68. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his views on increasing public funding of third level colleges to reverse the cuts that have taken place since 2008 and to end reliance on private sector funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44822/17]
92. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the funding of third level education in the future, with particular reference to student fees; his further plans on the specific nature in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45007/17]
Higher education is a central part of our plan as a Government to support a strong economy and deliver a fair society. To that end, the Government is committed to providing a more sustainable funding model for higher education.
This commitment is evidenced, in the first instance, in the establishment of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education, under the chairmanship of Peter Cassells tasked with developing a strategy for funding the third level sector. The Expert Group’s Report which was published in July 2016, clearly outlines the funding challenges in the higher education sector and offers a number of approaches and recommendations for consideration. As committed to in the Programme for Government, the report has been referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Education and Skills as part of the process for formulating a plan for the future of the sector. I look forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations which will assist in facilitating informed decision-making for the future direction of funding for higher education. No policy decisions are being taken in this area pending the outcome of examination of the Cassells report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills
I am cognisant of the immediate challenges facing the higher education sector and so while the Committee has been undertaking this important work, I have been working in the interim to secure additional funding for the sector. In that context, I secured additional funding for the sector in Budget 2017 of €36.5 million.
Building on that investment, I secured an additional €60m in Budget 2018 to be allocated to higher education. This additional funding will allow for targeted initiatives in higher education including skills programmes, performance and innovation funding, technological university development and apprenticeship costs in the sector. It will also allow for places to be provided for 2,100 additional students in 2018. In total, we will invest €100m more in Higher and Further Education in 2018 than we did in 2016, before the publication of the Cassells Report.