Written Answers. - Teacher Training Colleges.

578.

asked the Minister for Education if she will give an assessment of the effects financial and otherwise, on students in teacher education colleges as a result of the decision in the economic plan,Building on Reality, 1985-87 to fund those colleges under the higher education grant scheme next year.

The decision conveyed inBuilding on Reality 1985-87 paragraph 7.34, is that “new students in primary teacher training colleges and colleges of home economics will be charged separately for tuition and accommodation and the higher education grant scheme will apply to them”.

The decision means that as from the commencement of the 1985-86 academic year new students in the following colleges of education, St. Patrick's, Drumcondra; Mary Immaculate, Limerick; Our Lady of Mercy, Carysfort; Church of Ireland, Rathmines, will pay a tuition fee and pay separate charges for other college facilities such as accommodation and meals. Discussions are proceeding with the authorities of the colleges with a view to making the necessary arrangements.

Grants will be available to new students under the higher education grants scheme administered by the local authorities subject to the academic requirements and means test of that scheme. The arrangement of a composite fee and the Department's grants/loans scheme will be phased out but will continue for existing second and third year students.

579.

asked the Minister for Education the total percentage of graduates from teacher training colleges who graduated in 1984 and who now have permanent teaching posts; if she is concerned about the fact that there are now 800 unemployed graduates; with a further 600 due to qualify this year, and the action she is taking to improve employment prospects for this large number of student teachers.

The Department's records indicate that some 36 per cent of the graduates who completed their course of training in 1984 have been appointed to permanent posts in national schools. In addition, a substantial number (approximately 400) are employed on a temporary basis or as substitute teachers.

Regarding teacher employment, as indicated in theProgramme for Action in Education, 1984-87 the Government are committed to an improvement in the pupil/teacher ratio as soon as financial circumstances permit. In the meantime extra posts are being created to cater for increased numbers and further posts are being generated for special service in national schools in line with the policy to give priority to the disadvantaged. Furthermore, the intake to the colleges of education are being restricted so that the output relates more closely to the number of teaching posts likely to be available.

580.

asked the Minister for Education if the decision to fund teacher education colleges under the higher education grant scheme was arrived at on the basis of the Oideas Report of 1977 which claims that teacher education colleges cost the State twice as much as universities, a claim which has now been found to be totally misinformed.

The Government's decision is that new students in colleges of education be charged separately for tuition and accommodation and receive grants on the basis of the higher education grants scheme. This decision was taken in the context of the Government's overall strategy for the economy and with a view to putting college of education students on the same basis as third level students generally in the matters of student support.

I would refer the Deputy to par. 7.34 of the Government Green Paper published in 1978 which states:

Teacher training college students enjoy a level of State support which far exceeds that of other third level students...

It may be appropriate to place training college students on the same basis as other third level students and a charge might be levied for board and accommodation fee and maintenance grants would, of course, be available to students under the higher education grants scheme in the normal way.