Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (212)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

212. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the level of funding provided for counselling and mental health supports in third level institutions in each academic year 2013-14 to 2018-19 in tabular form; the number of students accessing such services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26514/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to HEA designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions. As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding, including the funding of student services, is a matter for the individual institution.

Details of expenditure incurred in respect of counselling services in the third level sector are outlined in the following table. Data in respect of subsequent academic years is not readily available at this time, however, it is expected that it would be broadly in line with previous years.

Year

Universities & Colleges - (incl MIC, NCAD & St Angela's College)

IoTs

2013/14

€3,963,627

€2,038,106

2014/15

€3,853,638

€2,185,196

2015/16

€4,185,682

€2,299,286

As per information previously provided by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland in 2017 – c. 13,400 students availed of counselling services for the 2015/16 academic year and it is expected this level of engagement with these services would be similar in other years.

Student services and associated activities are an integral part of the whole student experience at third level. Student services support each individual student achieve his/her intellectual, cultural and social potential while supporting and complementing the formal academic programme. Student services can fall under a number of headings, particularly ‘Welfare and Guidance’ which includes counselling services, health promotion, careers service, multi-faith, racial and ethnic cultural support.

The Deputy may wish to note that AHEAD, the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability, is supported through an annual grant from the HEA towards the cost of the activities of the organisation. In 2016, AHEAD in partnership with the National Learning Network (NLN), published a report called ‘Mental Health Matters’, a study into the experiences of students with mental health difficulties. The study found that the majority of HEIs have services supporting students with mental health difficulties and some institutions have dedicated services for students.