Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (53)

Seán Fleming

Question:

53. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the suggestion from the IMF in its January report on the bailout programme that a student loan scheme be introduced here within two years. [11977/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The question of introducing fees allied to an income contingent loan scheme has been identified previously, including in the Hunt report, as a means of addressing future funding issues in the sector while retaining free access at the point of entry. A technical report on options for the development of such a scheme was developed by my Department in 2009 and is published on my Department's website.

As the Deputy is aware the Higher Education Authority (HEA) is undertaking a study on the sustainability of the current funding system for higher education. This study was initiated at my request and an initial report has been published. This report makes it clear that immediate work is required to prepare for a longer term approach to a system that can be maintained through a sustainable funding base which will be able to address the continual expansion of the sector while protecting quality of education. The HEA is continuing its work in this area and I will be advised further as this work progresses. The report will help inform the decision-making as to the future funding of the sector.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 22.