The charge referred to by the Deputy is levied by third level institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and student services. My Department does not have the institutional details on how this funding is allocated. It should be remembered that students who are eligible for means tested student support will, in addition to any grant to which they are entitled, have the charge paid on their behalf, either directly by my Department or through the local authorities and vocational education committees. This means that 34% of students in universities and 47% of students in institutes of technology will not have to pay the charge.
In January 1998 the Higher Education Authority issued to the publicly funded third level institutions a framework of good practice for the provision of student services within the charge. Particular reference was made to the principles of transparency and accountability. The framework consists of guidelines to establish an appropriate system of consultation with students in the allocation of funding from the charge and in the determination of student services to be funded from this source. With regard to transparency, the framework recommended that each institution should provide information as to the allocation of the charge towards examination, registration and student services on an annual basis.
In 1999, the Higher Education Authority reviewed the consultative and decision making procedures in place in the third level institutions relating to the charge and is satisfied that all third level institutions have endeavoured to put in place arrangements that they considered to be appropriate.