Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Ceisteanna (707, 708, 709, 710, 711, 712, 713)

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

752 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has plans to centralise administration of the third level grants scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14597/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

753 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans which the Government has to centralise administration of the third level grants scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14603/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

819 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the cost to local authorities of administering their part of the third level education grants scheme; if the Government has plans to centralise administration of the third level grants scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14617/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Upton

Ceist:

823 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to rationalise student financial supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14641/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

826 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has studied the document produced by Union of Students in Ireland entitled Funding Fairness; if she intends to adopt, implement or amend all or any of the proposals or recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14654/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

841 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will introduce a standardised single application and assessment procedure in relation to student supports; if she will make information on financial supports more widely available in a range of accessible formats; her plans to set up a single agency to administer one unified grant scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14786/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

844 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will expand the grant support for students to include provision for child care and equipment; and if she will modify the way grants are paid to ensure that students receive payment within a month of starting college. [14789/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 752, 753, 819, 823, 841 and 844 together.

The Deputies will be aware that in accordance with the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government, I plan to introduce a single unified scheme of maintenance grants for students in higher education. This will provide for a more coherent administration system which will facilitate consistency of application, improved client accessibility and ensure the timely delivery of grants to those who need them most. The maintenance grants are reviewed annually and improvements made as necessary, having regard to available resources.

I attach particular importance to the issue of the quality and timeliness of information for students in regard to the financial supports which may be available to them. A number of initiatives have been taken by my Department in this regard, including the issuing of an information sheet direct to each CAO applicant. I have also asked the National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education to review existing information strategies and to bring forward proposals for additional initiatives which I expect to have in the near future.

In regard to the future administration of the schemes, as I indicated previously, my Department has been engaged in substantial consultations with the key stakeholders in order to map the most logical and effective arrangements for the future structure and administration of the student support schemes. These discussions have substantially clarified the positions of the various stakeholders and interest groups in regard to the future administration possibilities for student support. I expect to be in a position in the coming weeks to decide on a strategy, having regard to the many and complex issues involved, to give effect to the programme for Government commitment to the payment of the maintenance grants through a unified and flexible payment scheme. The arrangements to be put in place will involve clearly defined targets for the delivery of a quality and timely service to applicants for maintenance grants, including the expeditious payment of grants to applicants who comply with the terms of the schemes. The arrangements for the future administration will be provided for in new statutory framework through a student support Bill. I expect to be in a position to seek Government approval in the near future for the drafting of the Bill. The following table sets out the local contribution by the local authorities in respect of the higher education grants scheme. The local authorities and the VECs incur expenditure in respect of staffing costs and overheads in administering the schemes for which they are responsible at present.

Fixed Contribution Payable by Local Authority

IR£

EURO

Carlow

5,039.73

6,399.14

Cavan

8,045.65

10,215.87

Clare

8,130.00

10,322.97

Cork Corporation

14,589.76

18,525.17

Cork County Council

48,330.00

61,366.44

Donegal

5,819.00

7,388.61

Dublin Corporation

47,893.59

60,812.31

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

5,327.66

6,764.73

Fingal

5,327.65

6,764.72

South Dublin

5,327.65

6,764.72

Galway

12,488.33

15,856.91

Kerry

15,226.00

19,333.03

Kildare

6,003.41

7,622.76

Kilkenny

11,772.00

14,947.36

Laois

10,630.00

13,497.32

Leitrim

4,114.00

5,223.70

Limerick Corporation

5,288.69

6,715.25

Limerick County Council

12,795.21

16,246.57

Longford

2,889.87

3,669.38

Louth

4,945.20

6,279.11

Mayo

10,565.00

13,414.78

Meath

11,061.77

14,045.55

Monaghan

8,728.65

11,083.10

Offaly

8,562.15

10,871.69

Roscommon

10,255.84

13,022.23

Sligo

5,128.44

6,511.78

Tipperary NR

10,875.00

13,808.40

Tipperary SR

17,573.00

22,313.11

Waterford Corporation

2,551.84

3,240.17

Waterford County Council

6,842.50

8,688.18

Westmeath

7,595.00

9,643.66

Wexford

9,222.33

11,709.94

Wicklow

4,740.92

6,019.73

Totals

449,088.38