Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Fees
585. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his views on calls by students and student unions to reduce university fees by 30% given that students are under severe financial pressure with the current Covid-19 pandemic to afford their college course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3871/21]
The fee payable by a student can vary depending on a variety factors including the type of course and the student's access route including previous education.
Higher education institutions are autonomous institutions as provided for in legislation. The determination, as to the total level of fees to be charged for undergraduate and postgraduate course is a matter for each institution in accordance with its own particular operational conditions and circumstances in ensuring quality education provision.
Higher education institutions report that the actual cost of delivering such programmes has not reduced as a consequence of the pandemic and have experienced a range of additional costs in continuing to deliver programmes during the unique circumstances of the pandemic.
I am very aware of the difficulties facing students during this pandemic. In general there is a real requirement in these exceptional times to have a responsive approach to student needs wherever possible and it is important to acknowledge that HEIs have to date shown enormous willingness to be responsive in numerous ways. I would encourage all students to engage with their institution to discuss any issues in relation to their course, including fees.
In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students, financial assistance will be provided in academic year 2020/21 to all students who avail of SUSI grants and to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state.
Under this initiative students who avail of the SUSI grant will receive a €250 top-up in their grant and students who do not avail of the grant but attend publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state can reduce by €250 any outstanding student contribution fee payments or receive a €250 credit note for their institution.
This builds on the additional supports announced in July including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund, a €15 million technology fund for devices for students in further and higher education and an additional €3m provided for investment in supports for mental health services and well-being initiatives.