Student Grant Scheme

Questions (322)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

322. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to reverse changes to the non-adjacent grant levels. [35247/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The cost of reversing the change to the distance criteria for the student grant is estimated to be in the region of €25.9m.

The above costing assumes that a change to the distance criterion would result in a similar percentage of students qualifying for the higher non-adjacent grant support, as existed pre Budget 2011.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses Fees

Questions (323)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

323. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to remove apprenticeship and PLC course fees. [35248/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

An Annual Student Contribution (ASC) is levied on all students attending Institutes of Technology (IoTs).  Previously this ASC was paid by FÁS/SOLAS with apprentices themselves paying the part of the contribution relating to examination fees. As part of Budget 2014, SOLAS ceased making payments to IoTs and apprentices pay the full pro rata ASC.

The amount charged to apprentices is calculated on a pro rata basis of the time which they spend in IoTs during the academic year. For craft apprenticeships, this cost would typically be one third of the €3,000 ASC paid by students attending for the full academic year and so amounts to approximately €1,000 per apprentice per period spent in the IoT.  In the case of the new consortia led apprenticeships the contribution varies for each programme as their off-the-job training has a more flexible structure.   In cases where training is delivered in an Education and Training Board there is no contribution made by the apprentice. 

Based on projected apprenticeship provision in higher education institutions, apprentices or their employers will make up to €6.6 million in ASCs in 2019. If the arrangement in place prior to Budget 2014 arrangement were to be reinstated, where the apprentices paid the proportion of the ASC deemed to relate to examination fees, the total cost of not charging the ASC to the State would be €4.8 million in a full year. 

The only centrally determined payment for the Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) programme is the €200 PLC participant contribution. This amount is not payable by persons with a medical card, as well as a number of other categories, which means that approximately 60% of PLC participants do not pay the contribution. The estimated cost to remove the PLC participant contribution is in the region of €2.4 million.

Third Level Fees

Questions (324, 325, 337)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

324. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing the student contribution by €250 for students with family income by amounts (details supplied). [35249/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

325. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing the student contribution by €500 for students with family income by amounts (details supplied). [35250/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

337. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount a reduction of €500 to the student contribution charge would cost based on the most recent figures available. [35262/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 324, 325 and 337 together.

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

 The Deputy may wish to note that family income does not influence eligibility for the free fees scheme and accordingly my Department does not hold information on family incomes for students who are in receipt of free fees and paying the student contribution.

Therefore based on the overall number of students that qualified for free fees funding in the academic year 2018/19 (and were therefore liable to pay the Student Contribution), and taking into account expected increases in student numbers, the estimated net cost to my Department of reducing the contribution by €250 or €500 is outlined in the following table. These figures are based on the student projections for 2019/20.

 Reduce by (per student)

Estimated net cost to   Department 

 €250

 €19.6m

 €500

 €39.3m

 

It should be noted that the above estimates incorporate 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.

Third Level Staff Data

Questions (326)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

326. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of each one-point reduction in the academic staff to student ratio for universities. [35251/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that in accordance with the methodology used in the published institutional profiles, the current academic staff:student ratio in Universities is recorded at 20:1.

This is calculated based on the 2017/18 enrolment figures for full time equivalent (FTE) students (full and part time) to all academic staff as at 31 Dec 2017. 

A one point reduction would require an estimated additional 288 academic staff  and an estimated cost €17m per annum.   It should be noted that this figure includes Department funded staff and externally funded staff.   The estimated annual cost for a one point reduction in core academic staff is calculated at 200 staff at an annual cost of €12m.

Third Level Staff Data

Questions (327)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

327. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of each one-point reduction in the academic staff to student ratio for institutes of technology. [35252/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that in accordance with the methodology used in the published institutional profiles, the current academic staff:student ratio in Institutes of Technology is recorded at 15:1.

This is calculated based on the 2017/18 enrolment figures for full time equivalent (FTE) students (full and part time) to all academic staff as at 31 Dec 2017. 

A one point reduction would require an estimated additional 345 academic staff  and an estimated cost €20m per annum.   It should be noted that this figure includes Department funded staff and externally funded staff. 

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (328)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

328. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of extending grant support to part-time students at third level. [35253/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Based on the Higher Education Authority (HEA) statistical data of part-time undergraduate and part-time enrolments in all HEA funded institutions for the 2017/18 academic year, there were 23,794 part-time undergraduate students and 16,307 part-time postgraduate students.

If maintenance and fee grants were introduced for part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students along similar lines to those for full-time students, and similar numbers qualify for support, then the estimated cost would be in the region of €56m.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (329)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

329. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of extending grant support to postgraduate students. [35254/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

If the maintenance grants and eligibility for full fees were reintroduced for postgraduate students, along similar lines to those for undergraduate students, the total estimated cost would be approximately €44m.

This costing assumes that the actual number of postgraduate grant holders (2,194 in 2018/19) will increase to the level prior to the introduction of the 2012 Budget measure (6,027 students). It also assumes that students will qualify for the higher fee and maintenance grants.

Student Grant Scheme

Questions (330)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

330. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing all rates of the student grant by 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% respectively. [35255/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Every 5% increase in the student maintenance grant would cost circa €8.5m. Therefore, the estimated cost of increasing the student maintenance grant rates by 5%, 10%, 15%, or 20% would cost in the region of €8.5m, €17m, €25.5m, or €34m respectively.

Student Grant Scheme

Questions (331)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

331. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the special rate of the student grant by 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% respectively. [35256/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In 2018/19, there were 21,870 students in receipt of the special rate of maintenance grant. Based on these statistics, the estimated cost of increasing the special rate of maintenance grant by 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% would be circa €4.5m, €9m, €13.5m and €18m respectively.

Student Grant Scheme

Questions (332)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

332. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the special rate of the student grant by €30 per week for term time. [35257/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In 2018/19 there were 21,870 students in receipt of the special rate. Therefore, the cost of paying these students an additional €30 per week based on a 36 week period, would cost approximately €23.6m.

Student Assistance Fund

Questions (333)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

333. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase the student assistance fund and support scheme for students with disabilities by 20% each. [35258/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) is designed to support students in third-level institutions who are experiencing exceptional financial need. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances.

The current allocation for SAF amounts to €9.1m therefore an increase of 20% would be estimated at €10.92m, an increase of €1.82m from current allocation.

The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) provides financial support to higher education institutions to ensure that they are adequately resourced to cater for the needs of students with disabilities.

The Fund provides grants towards the individual needs assessment, provision of services, purchase of equipment and provision of academic supports for students with disabilities.  The scheme applies to students who have serious sensory, physical and/or communicative disabilities, including dyslexia.

The current allocation for FSD amounts to €9.6m therefore an increase of 20% would be estimated at €11.52m, an increase of €1.92m from current allocation.

Capitation Grants

Questions (334)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

334. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of a 5% increase in capitation to PLCs, Youthreach and VTOS. [35259/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Capitation amounting to €1.4 million was paid in 2019 in respect students attending PLC courses.   In addition to this, SOLAS, the further education authority provided enhanced capitation of €2.5 million.

To increase the total paid by 5% would cost €195,000.

The Department provides funding to  SOLAS to provide for further education programmes such as Youthreach and VTOS.  The funding is disbursed by SOLAS by way of grants to the ETBs to cover all pay and non-pay elements of the programmes.  There is no capitation element paid in respect of these programmes, although funding is based on the number of class groups.   In 2019 SOLAS provided €67 million funding for the Youthreach programme and €70 million in respect of the VTOS Programme.

Third Level Admissions Data

Questions (335)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

335. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of non-EU students who enrolled in higher education over the past five years. [35260/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The numbers of non-EU students enrolled in HEA funded higher education institutions over the five year period 2013/2014 to 2017/2018 is outlined in the following table -  

Domicile Group

2013/2014

2014/2015

2015/2016

2016/2017

2017/2018

Total Non-EU

13,153

14,558

16,315

16,839

18,468

Full-time students

12,555

13,741

15,581

16,196

17,719

Part-time students

598

817

734

643

749

The data for the academic year 2018/19 is not yet available. Full information on enrolments in Irish Higher Education institutions is available on www.hea.ie/statistics  

Third Level Fees

Question No. 337 answered with Question No. 324.

Questions (336)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

336. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students that qualify for the free fees initiative based on the latest student numbers available. [35261/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under my Department's free fees schemes, the Exchequer provides funding towards tuition fee costs in respect of eligible students who are pursuing an approved full-time undergraduate courses of study in an approved institution in the State. The main conditions of the scheme are that students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the number of students who received funding under the free fees schemes in the academic year 2018/19 was 138,748.

Question No. 337 answered with Question No. 324.

Third Level Fees

Questions (338)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

338. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which Ireland compares to other OECD countries in relation to student fees. [35263/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Student costs vary considerably across the OECD, from countries such as the United States and England where tuition fees are at the highest levels to a number of EU countries where no tuition fees are payable by students. The OECD Report, “Education at a Glance 2018” provides data on the structure, finances and performance of education systems in the 35 OECD countries, and a number of partner countries, and provides data on tuition fees and public supports across the OECD. Higher education is structured and funded in a wide variety of ways and arrangements are highly dependent on the context and circumstances of each individual country.

As the Deputy will be aware, in Ireland students who are eligible for assistance under the free fees schemes, receive funding towards their tuition fees with the student paying a Student Contribution which currently stands at €3,000. The contribution was introduced with effect from the 2011/12 academic year and has remained at €3,000 since 2014/15.

It is important to note that the exchequer pays the contribution (or part of it) on behalf of almost 50% of undergraduate students who are in receipt of student grant assistance. In addition, tax relief provisions are also available so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost.

I am committed to a schedule which is progressing key reviews and reforms of Higher Education Funding which includes an economic examination of the three policy options proposed by the report on future funding of higher education (Cassells report).  My Department engaged with the European Commission and successfully secured their assistance to undertake this work through the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP).  The SRSP provides tailor-made support to all EU countries for their institutional, administrative and growth-enhancing reforms.  In Q3 2019 the Commission sought the submission for proposals to undertake the review as outlined in the detailed Terms of Reference.  It is expected that the evaluation of applications will be completed in September 2020. The review is envisaged to commence following this process. This review will inform future policy decisions on higher education funding.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Questions (339, 340, 341, 342)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

339. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017. [35264/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

340. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017. [35265/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

341. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017. [35266/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

342. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances will be sought for apprenticeships in budget 2020; and if so, the estimated cost. [35267/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 339 to 342, inclusive, together.

This Government is committed to the ongoing expansion and development of our national apprenticeship system, as is evident by a year on year increase in the budget allocation. This year’s allocation for apprenticeship training is €142m which represents an increase of over 16% on the 2018 allocation of €122m.  Since 2015 new apprenticeship registrations have increased by 80% with 5,648 new registrations by the end of 2018. In addition, following two calls for proposals in 2015 and 2017 by the Apprenticeship Council, to date twenty new apprenticeship programmes have been developed and are now operational to complement the existing 25 craft apprenticeships.

It is important to note that the structure of these new consortia led apprenticeship programmes are different to those in the craft trades. Our new consortia-led apprenticeships offer more flexibility to employers in meeting their skill needs both in the duration of the programme and in terms of the delivery of the off-the-job training. These new apprenticeship programmes vary in length from 2 to 4 years and have different methods of off-the-job training such as one day per week, and on-line blended learning rather than the traditional block release of up to 22 weeks in an education setting, as is the case in the craft trades.  While there is no training allowance paid to apprentices undertaking one of our new apprenticeships, I am aware that some employers engaged in the system have raised this as an issue. However, any change in this regard, would have to form part of the normal budgetary process and be considered in the broader context of competing demands and the overall availability of resources. 

Details of apprentice population per new apprenticeship programme introduced since 2016 as requested by the deputy are set out in the attached tabular statement. 

Apprentice Population

20 New Apprenticeships developed Since 2016

2016

2017

2018

2019*

AUCTIONEERING

Auctioneering & property services

n/a

n/a

52

58

Total

52

87

BIOPHARMACHEM

Laboratory Analyst

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Laboratory Technician

n/a

n/a

14

17

Total

n/a

n/a

14

17

Electrical

Industrial Electrical Engineering

12

31

54

57

Total

12

31

54

57

ENGINEERING

Manufacturing Engineering (Level 6)

n/a

39

73

82

Manufacturing Engineering (Level 7)

n/a

36

55

57

Polymer Processing Technology

n/a

23

38

46

Original Equipment and Manufacture (OEM)

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

n/a

98

166

185

FINANCE

Accounting Technician

n/a

71

146

182

Insurance Practice

67

138

197

198

International Financial Services Associate

n/a

14

25

27

International Financial Services Specialist

n/a

14

24

25

Total

67

237

392

432

FOOD MANUFACTURING

Butcher

n/a

n/a

7

22

Total

n/a

n/a

7

14

HOSPITALITY

Chef de Partie

n/a

n/a

27

32

Commis Chef

n/a

25

105

90

Sous Chef

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

n/a

25

132

122

ICT

ICT Associate Professional Network Technician

n/a

n/a

22

54

ICT Associate Professional Software Developer

n/a

n/a

38

68

Cybersecurity Associate

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

n/a

n/a

60

122

LOGISTICS

Logistics Associate

n/a

n/a

27

30

Grand Total

79

391

904

1,045

*Latest figures as of 31st July 2019

Apprenticeship Data

Questions (343)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

343. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to create 1,000 additional apprenticeship places. [35268/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The average annual cost to train an apprentice in one of our craft apprenticeships is €7,159 per annum.  Consequently, the estimated cost of providing an additional one thousand apprenticeship places is approximately €7.16 million in a full year. 

Private Schools

Questions (344)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

344. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full year net saving of withdrawing the annual State subsidy to private schools. [35269/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Gross expenditure on the order of €95 million was incurred in 2018 on salaries for teachers and special needs assistants (including employer’s PRSI).  The total amount spent on Capital Expenditure (including ICT grants) in 2018 was on the order €0.958 million.

If the parents of children in the fee charging sector chose to send their children to the non-fee-paying sector, the State would have to fund those school places. In this respect, the figures quoted relate to the gross cost of fee charging schools and not the net cost. Since it is not possible to predict these patterns of behaviour it is not possible to calculate the net saving.

National Educational Psychological Service Data

Questions (345)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

345. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full year net saving of reducing the scheme for private psychological assessment by 10%. [35270/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).

Under the Scheme, schools that do not currently have access to an assigned NEPS psychologist for individual casework may commission psychological assessments from an approved panel of private practitioners maintained and paid for by NEPS for this purpose.  NEPS pays an all-in fee of €304 (€243 net withholding tax) per assessment.

In its last full year of operation, 2018, NEPS expended some €0.52m on some 1,715 SCPA assessments countrywide - a reduction of 10% at this level would therefore produce a saving of €0.05m per annum.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (346)

Seán Haughey

Question:

346. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is committed to the free counselling service provided by his Department for teachers and other civil servants previously known as care call but which is now provided by an organisation (details supplied); his views on whether demand for this service is increasing but that the budget for it has not been increased; his plans to ensure that clients of the service can automatically obtain six sessions; if he will allow clients of the service obtain more than six sessions with the same counsellor if necessary; if the same counsellor can deal with the client on an ongoing basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35275/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

An Occupational Health Strategy is in place as a supportive resource for teachers.  The aim of this strategy is to promote the health of teachers in the workplace, with a focus primarily on prevention rather than cure. The Occupational Health Strategy comprises of the Employee Assistance & Wellbeing Programme (EAWP) and the Occupational Health Service. 

EAP Consultants (branded as Inspire Workplaces) are the current providers of the EAWP which includes a free confidential service available to teachers and their family members.  It is assessable by means of a Freephone dedicated helpline which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing counselling on a range of personal health and wellbeing issues given by qualified clinicians.  Referral to the service is on a self- referral basis.

Under the service up to 6 face-to-face counselling sessions are available for short-term solution focused counselling based on clinical need.  The EAWP provider must ensure continuity of counsellor during the period of action on a referral unless exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise. Demand for the EAWP service has been increasing in recent years.  

The Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) provides an internal Employee Assistance Programme to Civil Service staff.  The Service is a work-based professional service which is designed to assist employees manage/resolve work-related and personal difficulties which, if left unattended may adversely affect attendance, work performance and quality of life.