Wednesday, 4 July 2018
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Charges
125. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to reduce or abolish the student contribution for third level students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29386/18]
The student contribution was introduced in higher education institutions with effect from the 2011/12 academic year and replaced the Student Services Charge. The Student Contribution currently stands at €3,000. There has been no increase in the student contribution since the 2015/16 academic year.
Measures are in place to assist students and their parents with meeting the cost of the student contribution.
In 2016/17 approximately 43% of all fulltime undergraduate students had all or part of the student contribution paid for by the State on their behalf through the student grant scheme.
In addition, in recognition of the financial pressures that the student contribution may place on families, my Department and the HEA have requested higher education institutions to put in place arrangements under which a student may opt to pay the student contribution in two instalments in a given academic year.
The cost of abolishing the student contribution would be approximately €220m for the 2018/19 academic year would be approximately €220m. This figure takes into account the resulting reduction to my Department's Student Grant Scheme budget.
I am committed to providing a more sustainable funding model for higher education. As committed to in the programme for government I referred the Cassells report to the Joint Oireachtas committee on Education for consideration of the recommendations. The committee has recently requested my Department to undertake a full economic evaluation of the recommendations which I have agreed to. Following this evaluation I look forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations which will assist in facilitating informed decision-making for the future direction of policy and funding for higher education.
I the interim, I have been working to secure additional funding for higher education. This commitment is reflected in Budget 2017 and 2018 announcements in which the higher education sector was prioritised. In total, we will be investing more than €100m in higher education in 2018 than in 2016. We will look to continue this commitment to investment in higher education in 2019 and beyond.
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.