Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
669. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if it will be ensured that agriculture students attending Teagasc colleges will be eligible for the same financial supports as other third-level students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43342/20]
My Department has been working closely with Teagasc to develop Covid related supports for Teagasc learners that are broadly similar to those recently announced by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science for the wider education sector. To establish parity with comparable learners, in the region of €0.2 million is being provided to fund the combined cost of a COVID payment to Teagasc learners and a Teagasc Laptop Assistance Scheme.
The Laptop Assistance Scheme will provide digital devices to assist disadvantaged Teagasc learners with remote learning. I understand that Teagasc are now accepting applications for the devices. Teagasc has also paid a €250 grant top up to learners currently deemed eligible for the Teagasc maintenance grant. A rebate of €100 per learner is being made available to learners not in receipt of the maintenance grant and who paid the €990 Level 5 and 6 fees for fulltime courses in the academic year 20/21.
Overall it's expected that circa 1,000 Teagasc learners will benefit from these supports. I am confident that the supports will assist Teagasc full-time Level 5 and 6 learners to adjust to the impact of COVID on their education in the same manner as learners in the wider education sector.