Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (179)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


179. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of restoring grants for student teacher attendance at mandatory Gaeltacht courses. [37095/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The decision to stop the Gaeltacht placement grants was taken during the economic crisis when, unfortunately, very difficult decisions had to be made to stabilise the nation's finances. At the time, priority was given to protecting resources for front-line education services as far as possible.

The annual cost of fully funding the reconfigured Gaeltacht Placement on primary initial teacher education (ITE) programmes for 1,200 student teachers in the four state-funded providers is estimated at €1.8m per annum.

While there is no provision currently in my Department's budget for this grant or an element thereof in 2019, because of ongoing budgetary pressures which continue to be acute, the matter remains under consideration in my Department.

To assist with the costs of the Gaeltacht placement, students who are in receipt of a student grant which includes a 100% fee grant, or who would have qualified for a full fee grant but for the Free Fees Scheme, can apply for funding towards travel and accommodation costs under the field trip element of a fee grant, subject to the normal terms and conditions of the student grant scheme. Apart from this, in circumstances of particular need, students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. Information in relation to this fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended.