Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (552)

Dara Calleary


552. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if leaving certificate 2020 students who have been awarded an upgraded college course having received a higher leaving certificate after sitting the examination will be liable for the student contribution fee of €3,000 when they transfer to year one of their upgraded course in 2021; if such students are liable, his views on whether it is unfair to charge twice for year one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7873/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Under the Department’s free fees schemes, the Exchequer provides funding toward the tuition fee costs of eligible undergraduate higher education students with students paying the student contribution.

The student contribution applies to all students on an annual basis, who are eligible under the 'free fees' scheme. The current rate is €3,000 per annum. Currently in excess of 60,000 students have all or part of the student contribution paid on their behalf by the State via the Student Grant Scheme.

To satisfy the terms and conditions of the Free Fees Schemes 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 related course where the award for the subsequent course is of a higher level than the previous course.

Typically students are not supported for a repeat period of study under the free fees initiative, however in exceptional circumstances, or where a student receives a Leaving Certificate uplifted offer from their original CAO application following an appeal, an exception may be allowed.

As an extension to the current scheme, and cognisant of the leaving certificate 2020 process, students receiving an uplifted deferred place in 2021/22 academic year, based on the 2020 CAO application having sat examinations will remain eligible for free fees for the 2nd period of study.

As already mentioned, the student contribution applies to all students who are eligible under the 'free fees' scheme as the students annual contribution towards tuition fees. This includes students that choose to transfer courses that will require a repeat period of study while retaining access to 'free fees' on an exceptional basis such as a deferred uplifted place.