I propose to take Questions Nos. 1001, 1021, 1027 and 1028 together.
I am very conscious of the impact the pandemic has had on our students. To ensure the safety of our students and staff in further and higher education, the majority of college will be online for this semester. In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students the Government has approved once off funding of €50m to provide additional financial assistance in this academic year. My Officials and I are developing the process on how this once-off funding will be utilised for submission to Government prior to commencement. Once finalised the details will be available for students.
Additionally Budget 2021 provides further funding to enhance SUSI grant supports for post-grads and increase support for the PATH access initiative, which seeks to increase participation in Higher Education from the most economically disadvantaged students.
This builds on the specific student supports in response to Covid, which I announced in July including the provision of additional student assistance including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund, and a €15 million technology fund for devices for students in further and higher education to assist with difficulties in accessing technology to facilitate their course work in a blended capacity. These supports are being distributed through the colleges and further education providers.