Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (337)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

337. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a study on the impact of rising student fees on participating families will be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32000/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under my Department's free fees scheme eligible full-time undergraduate students have their tuition fees paid on their behalf by the Exchequer. As the Deputy will be aware the student contribution will increase to €2,500 for the next academic year and is payable by students who qualify under the free fees scheme. Students who qualify under my Department's student grant scheme have the student contribution paid on their behalf by the Exchequer. 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 relief so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost of the student contribution. 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.