Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (261)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

261. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to abolish higher level education fees for both institutes of technology and universities. [27664/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Contribution, was introduced with effect from the 2011/12 academic year. While the student contribution now stands at €3,000, it is important to recognise that there has been no increase in the contribution since 2014/15.

It is estimated that the net cost to my Department of abolishing the contribution would cost approximately €229 million.

This figure is based on the number of students that qualified for free fees funding in the academic year 2017/18 (and were therefore liable to pay the Student Contribution), and taking into account projected growth in student numbers for 2019 academic year.

It should be noted that this figure incorporates the resulting reduction to my Department's Student Grant Scheme budget, as the exchequer pays this contribution (or part of it) on behalf of almost 50% of undergraduate students who are in receipt of student grant assistance.

Tax relief provisions are also available so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost. In addition, higher education institutions have provisions in place to allow students to pay the contribution in two moieties.