Written answers

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Third Level Fees

Rose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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455. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of reducing the student contribution charge for higher education by €100, €200, €500, €1,000 and €3,000, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18299/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Under my Department’s free fees schemes, the Exchequer provides funding toward the tuition fee costs of eligible full-time undergraduate students with students paying the student contribution which currently stands at €3,000. 

The Student Contribution, was introduced with effect from the 2011/12 academic year. There has been no increase in the contribution since 2014/15 and the Exchequer pays this contribution (or part of it) on behalf of almost 50% of undergraduate students who are eligible for free fees via the student grant scheme.

The estimated additional cost to the Exchequer for reducing the student contribution at the rates of  €100, €200, €500, €1,000 and €3,000 for the 2020/21 academic year are as follows:

Reduction amount Estimated net cost (millions)
€100 €7.8m
€200 €15.7m
€500 €39.2m
€1,000 €78.4m
€3,000 €235.1m
The above figures are the estimated net cost to the Exchequer factoring in the subsequent estimated reduction in the SUSI Student Grant budget.

The costs for the Exchequer of reducing or abolishing the student contribution would increase in line with the demographic increases expected in the coming years up to 2030.

My Department is undertaking a comprehensive economic review currently which is progressing under the European Commission DG Reform’s Structural Reform Support Programme.  This review is focussed on Increasing the Future Sustainability of Higher and Further Education Provision in Ireland. The review encompasses an assessment of the funding options for higher education included in the 2016 (Cassells) Report of the Expert Group on Future Funding of Higher Education which includes the student contribution charge. The study is scheduled to be substantially complete in Q4 2020.

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