Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
539. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of grants or scholarships available through her Department to assist students in third-level education studying the Irish language; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31708/21]
My Department has funded the Advanced Irish Language Skills Initiative since 2006 in response to the identified need to increase the number of graduates with skills in specific areas in the context of the Official Languages Act 2003 and Irish being an official working language of the European Union (EU). Under this initiative, a range of Irish language courses, primarily in translation, interpreting and law, are provided, thus generating a supply of qualified people with Irish language skills to meet recruitment needs in Ireland and the EU.
In the 2019/20 academic year, funding of €935,564 was disbursed in respect of the twelve courses funded under the Advanced Irish Language Skills Initiative and 86 students were awarded qualifications at the end of the same academic year. The courses are being run again this year with funding of €970,953 being provided by my Department.
Alongside the above-mentioned specific fund, it should also be noted that my Department is also providing current funding of €900,000 per annumto Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI, Galway. The Acadamh which operate under the aegis of NUI Galway, promotes the development and provision of university courses and research through the medium of Irish in three Gaeltacht centres and at the university’s campus in Galway City. My Department’s allocation is earmarked to fund a range of courses through Irish, including a Gaeltacht semester and placement programme for students wishing to study Irish as part of their degree.
While my Department has for a number of years subsidised the accommodation costs for trainee teachers attending residential Gaeltacht courses, in 2019, it launched a new initiative, named Erasmus Gaeltachta, which provides up to 175 third-level students with the opportunity to spend a semester residing with accredited Gaeltacht households. This initiative is administered under my Department's Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilgeto subvent the cost of accommodation for students staying with Gaeltacht households approved under the scheme. It is expected that this will resume in the new academic year, having been cancelled over the past year due to the pandemic.