Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (597)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

597. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science his plans to support students enrolled in graduate medical programmes during the pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7114/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

To satisfy the terms and conditions of the Student Grant Scheme in relation to progression, a student must be moving from year to year within a course, having successfully completed the previous year or be transferring from one course to another where the award for the subsequent course is of a higher level than the previous course.

Students pursuing GEM programmes do so as second degree courses and consequently are not eligible for free fees funding or for student grants. However, in order to widen access to GEM programmes, and give assistance towards the financial burden on each student pursuing these programmes, the fees of participating EU students are partly subsidised by the State via the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Institutions participating in the graduate medical programme have been requested to provide accompanying services and supports to facilitate the participation of disadvantaged students in the programme. Details of these services and supports are available from the relevant institution.

Students on graduate entry medicine courses may be eligible to apply to the Student Assistance Fund for financial support. The SAF guidelines provide that students with a previous higher education qualification at the same NFQ level, or who, in the past, attended higher education without ultimately obtaining a qualification, may be considered for support on a case-by-case basis and subject to available funding.

In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may also be available in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student's local Tax Office or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.