Thursday, 27 June 2019

Questions (72)

Willie Penrose

Question:

72. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take in the context of budget 2020 to commit to a nationwide investment in mental health services for students at third level education (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27425/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Student services and associated activities are an integral part of the whole student experience at third level. Student services support each individual student to 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.

In relation to the provision of services within the institutions, the position is that my Department provides funding to the Higher Education Authority for direct disbursement to its designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant, and the internal disbursement of this funding, including the funding of student services, is a matter for the individual institution.

I understand that the Department of Health is developing a National Healthy Campus Framework whose aims include to support and recognise the work of institutions in improving the health and wellbeing of campus communities, and to generate and disseminate knowledge for promoting health and wellbeing on campus. In addition a working group has been convened by the Higher Education Authority to progress actions assigned to it under the Connecting for Life strategy, and the first meeting of the group was in December 2018.

In relation to Budget 2020, I cannot comment, or preempt any decisions to be taken by Government at this stage, other than to assure the Deputy that funding for the higher education sector will continue to be a key focus for me and my Department.