Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (281)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

281. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department will be conducting a study or a report on the impact that increasing student fees for third level students is having on families with children attending college, in view of the fact that he has committed to increasing the third level registration fee for students by €250 annually in the coming years; if he will conduct such a study or report internally by officials in his Department or if they will be seeking external tenders for expert consultants to carry out such a study who will be independent; when he expects such a report to be commissioned; the length of time in which he expects such a study to be completed; the length of time he expects to receive such a report; and if he will outline when the report or study will be finalised or when it will feed into policy by his Department. [30536/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware the student contribution will increase to €2,500 for the next academic year and is set to increase by €250 each year until the 2015/16 academic year when the contribution will stand at €3,000. The contribution is paid by the Exchequer in respect of students who qualify under my Department's student grant scheme.

The Government is aware of the financial pressures on families and, conscious of this, tax relief provisions have been put in place which provide for tax reliefs so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost. In addition, my Department, through the Higher Education Authority (HEA), requested institutions to put arrangements in place whereby students may opt to pay the contribution in two instalments.

The 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 the 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 decision-making as to the future funding of the sector.