Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - University Student Maintenance.

43.

asked the Minister for Education the amount available for maintenance purposes after payment of fees by a student holding the maximum grant available to persons residing near a university centre and enrolled in the faculty of science in UCD in 1968-69, 1969-70, 1970-71 and 1971-72.

The amount of grant remaining to a student holding the maximum grant (£175) payable to persons residing in or near a university town, after paying his fees in the faculty of science in UCD was £85 in each of the academic years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71. This will also be the position in 1971-72.

Would the Minister agree that in that period there were two reductions in the value of money?

44.

asked the Minister for Education what sum would be available for maintenance purposes after payment of fees by a student holding the maximum grant available to persons residing near a university centre in 1971-72 if the amount available to such a student for this purpose in 1968-69 were increased by the same percentage as will have applied to (1) Civil Service salaries between October, 1968 and January, 1972 and (2) unemployment benefit in the same period.

45.

asked the Minister for Education whether he will increase student grants by the amount necessary to ensure that the sum available for maintenance purposes after payment of fees will be greater than that available to students for this purpose in 1968-69 by a percentage broadly equivalent to the figures mentioned in reply to the previous question, and, if not, why.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 45 together.

I am satisfied that increases in Civil Service salaries or in unemployment benefit are of no relevance as far as higher education grants are concerned and, therefore, no purpose would be served by my seeking to give the information sought by the Deputy.

Does this mean that whereas other groups in the community, and I have mentioned but two, are entitled to increases in earnings at least equal to increases in the cost of living, and in all cases nowadays more, students must make do indefinitely with the same amount of money, no matter how much prices rise and the cost of living goes up?

I agree with the Deputy in regard to Civil Service salaries that increases are very often given not only on the basis of increases in the cost of living but also to raise the general standard. This is common in relation to increases in salaries generally.

And social welfare benefits.

We will not discuss that for the moment. Therefore I would estimate that the civil servants in question would be in a better position to help their children because of these increases.

The Minister perhaps misunderstood the purport of my question. I merely took two examples of wages and salaries, on the one hand, and social benefits, on the other, to point out, what the Minister must know, that these both rise by more than the cost of living and that it is accepted that as national output increases the benefits are shared. What I am asking the Minister is why one group of social welfare beneficiaries only, that is, those who benefit from transfer payments in order to enable them to go to the university, should be discriminated against and held at a constant figure regardless of the cost of living.

There is no relevance between the two things. I have explained why and the Deputy should read my supplementary reply.