Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (149)

Michael Healy-Rae


149. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will protect the student maintenance grant in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41305/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There was no change in Budget 2013 to any of the student grant rates including the non-adjacent or adjacent rates of grant or the higher special rate of grant for the 2013 financial year. The aim of the student maintenance grant scheme has always been to make a contribution to the cost of going to college; covering the full cost has never been a feasible option. As the Deputy will be aware, the reality of our economic situation presents significant challenges that have to be reconciled with limitations on public resources. This is a very stark reality, which, unfortunately, means that changes to any public service, including the student grant scheme, cannot be ruled out. I empathise with students and I am very conscious of the fundamental role played by the student grant scheme in supporting families who are putting their children through further and higher education. However, the state of the public finances is such that tough decisions had to be made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. For this reason it is the responsibility of Government to take into consideration all areas of public services when formulating Budget 2014. Ultimately, our budgetary decisions now will play a major part in creating a sustainable economy and in regaining our economic independence. As the Deputy will be aware all proposals made in relation to education expenditure including changes to student grants will be considered in the context of the Budget 2014.