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

46.

asked the Minister for Education whether he will extend student grants to all matriculation entry university courses of three or more years duration; how many students take such courses; how many it is estimated would qualify for grants and what the estimated cost would be.

I do not propose to extend higher education grants to all matriculation entry university courses of three or more years duration, since these grants are, by statute, tenable only at university degree courses or courses in other institutions which are the equivalent of university degree courses. The second part of the Deputy's question does not, therefore, arise.

The second part does arise because in order for us to judge how valid is the reply given by the Minister in the first part we would want to know what would be the cost of making this change. I put it to the Minister that the number of students attending three-year diploma courses in universities and institutes of higher education, colleges of technologyet cetera is such that, with the application of the means test, on the one hand, and the four honours requirement in the leaving certificate, on the other, the cost of making this concession would be extremely small and that therefore he should introduce amending legislation to make this reasonable change. Is the Minister not going to answer the question?

The Deputy has made a statement.

I asked a question. Would the Minister not give me the figures I asked for?

As I pointed out, I do not propose to grant what is being sought and so I do not see any point in giving figures.

Is the Minister refusing to answer the question?

I never refuse to answer questions.

He just has.

47.

asked the Minister for Education whether any local authority applies to applicants for student grants conditions relating to qualifications in oral Irish, or to political involvement; what local authorities apply such conditions; and what is the precise wording of such conditions.

Mayo County Council include in their higher education grants scheme a provision whereby a grant is not renewed unless the holder thereof passes an oral examination in Irish. The relevant extract is as follows :—

Note:—A grant holder will not be allowed to hold his grant for a second or subsequent year unless the college or Institution Authorities:—

(a) Inform the Secretary of the County Council that they are satisfied that the conduct of the scholar during the preceding year has been good.

(b) That he has presented himself for and passed in all subjects of his university or college or institution sessional examination of the preceding year.

(c) That he has passed the oral examination in Irish held by the University College or Institution at the end of the session. (d) That the authorities recommend such renewal.

No other local authority applies a condition regarding oral Irish. Political involvement is not mentioned by any local authority in its higher education grants scheme.

Is the Minister suggesting that all our university colleges hold oral Irish examinations at the end of each year or indeed that any of them do so?

Evidently the Mayo County Council insist that their students be examined in Irish. I do not know. I have not got any further information in regard to this.

Would the Minister find out whether in fact this is done? I have never heard of the practice of an oral examination at the end of each year and I do not believe such examination exist. Would the Minister look into a condition being imposed which is incapable of fulfilment?

I am certainly not going to object to the condition, but I shall look into what the Deputy is asking.

48.

asked the Minister for Education what provisions exist to enable students whose parents' means fall after they enter higher education to apply for grants after the deadline following the publication of the leaving certificate results.

A student who is following a course of studies which could be approved of under the higher education grants scheme and who was ineligible for a grant, solely on the grounds of means, on his entry on that course may be awarded a grant with effect from the beginning of the first academic year following the production of evidence that the means requirements of the scheme would now be fulfilled in his case. He need not have been an applicant prior to the change in his parents' means.

Is this a new development or did this operate from the beginning?

This has been in operation for some time.

Was it in the scheme originally?

It says here that by circular letter dated 19th February, 1970, the local authorities were authorised——

So it is a change?

It is a welcome change.