Written Answers. - Third Level Fees.

John McGuinness

Question:

174 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department will review the policy where fees are not paid to part-time students in view of the fact that this is often the only way some sections of the community can access third level. [22235/98]

Any proposal to extend the Free Fees Initiative to students pursuing part-time courses, including evening and modular courses, would have to be considered in the light of available financial resources and competing needs in the education sector.

In the 1996-97 academic year, there were almost 23,000 part-time students at third level. In this regard, the profile of part-time students considered by the steering committee on the future development of higher education, indicated that almost 90 per cent of part-time students were in employment. In this context I would point out that, under section 15 of the Finance Act, 1996, as amended by section 7 of the Finance Act, 1997, tax relief is available, at the standard rate, for tuition fees paid by eligible students who are attending approved part-time third level courses.