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Third Level Fees

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 13 July 2021

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Questions (530)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

530. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that DCU has raised the cost of its post-primary teaching fees from €8,960 in 2020 to €9,700 for 2021-2022, which is having a huge impact on many students; the supports that are in place for students who find themselves in this position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37709/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

As the deputy will be aware, higher education institutions are autonomous bodies as set out in legislation and are responsible for the day-to-day management and operational affairs of the institution including the determination of postgraduate tuition fees.  The matter of fee rates is therefore an internal matter for Dublin City University.

I am very aware of the difficulties facing students during this pandemic.  In general there is a real requirement in these exceptional times to have a responsive approach to student needs wherever possible and it is important to acknowledge that HEIs have to date shown enormous willingness to be responsive in numerous ways. I would encourage all institutions to engage with students in relation to any issues, including fees.

The main support available to students is the statutory based Student Grant Scheme where students are studying for the first time or are progressing to study at a higher level.  The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the centralised student grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine. Postgraduate students who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant under the Student Grant Scheme are eligible for the Postgraduate Special Rate of Maintenance grant, the income threshold for this grant is €24,500, also postgraduate students are eligible to have their post graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270.

Budget 2021 provided for enhanced postgraduate supports for the 2021/22 academic year including the fee grant amount rising from €2,000 to €3,500 and the income threshold for eligibility for these grants to increase from €31,500, now €54,240. This is an initial step in meeting part of the Government’s commitments regarding enhancing the SUSI supports for postgraduate students.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students can apply for supports under the Student Assistance Fund. The 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. Institutions have the autonomy to maximise the flexibility in the Student Assistance Fund to enable HEIs to support students during the Covid-19 pandemic. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the higher education institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non-EU countries. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student's local Tax office or from the Revenue Commissioners website www.revenue.ie .

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