Adoption Data

Question No. 651 answered with Question No. 639.

Ceisteanna (649, 650)

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

649. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration the evidence that exists of a guarantee of confidentiality to natural mothers whose children were adopted in view of the system of public registration of births in Ireland. [27318/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

650. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration the evidence that exists that natural mothers wish to prevent their adult children from accessing their own personal data. [27319/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 649 and 650 together.

In considering the natural mother’s expectation of privacy in the adoption process, it is important to take account of the context in which adoption took place in the past. While adoption today is a child focused service, aimed at providing a family for a child where their own parents are unable to care for them, in the past, the focus of adoption was often on the needs of adults. This includes both adoptive parents, who may have been stigmatised as unable to have children, and also unmarried parents, in particular unmarried mothers of so-called “illegitimate” children.

In the development of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016, my Department received submissions from multiple stakeholders, including natural or birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted people.

My Department has also had engagement with social workers who have years of experience working with natural mothers. These social workers have conveyed to the Department the serious concerns which some natural mothers have about the potential release of their information. In particular, they have indicated that, at the time of the child’s birth and placement for adoption, these birth mothers understood that their details would never be released. Some such birth mothers have spoken of how they were promised no contact would ever be made. It must be remembered that this happened in the context of secrecy around the adoption process in the past, and in a social climate where to be an unmarried mother was seen as shameful.

Many of these natural mothers were encouraged to keep the fact that they had placed a child for adoption secret, and have never told anyone, including their subsequent spouses and children. Consequently, the prospect of the release of their information makes them extremely fearful for the future of their relationships with their families, spouses, children, and wider community. It must also be remembered that many of these natural mothers are now at an advanced age, or are vulnerable for other reasons, including as survivors of incest and rape.

While there are many birth mothers who are happy to share their personal information with their children, it is clear this is not the case for all of them.

The advice received from the Attorney General in the development of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 was clear: there must be some protection of birth parents' constitutional right to privacy reflected in the legislation. There are two rights at play - the right to identity and the right to privacy - and legislation must seek to harmonise these rights, as held by the Supreme Court in the I.O’T v B decision.

I am continuing to consider how best to progress these complex issues, and I intend to bring forward legislative proposals in due course.

Question No. 651 answered with Question No. 639.

Adoption Data

Question No. 653 answered with Question No. 646.

Ceisteanna (652)

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

652. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration his views on whether there will still be a right of access to personal data in the archive of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes after it is transferred to him according to the GDPR and Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 as amended by the Data Protection Act 2018. [27321/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

When the Government decided to establish an inquiry into mother and baby homes, the model of investigation that it chose was a commission of investigation under the Commissions of Investigation Act of 2004. That decision by Government, and the subsequent establishment, under the law, of the Commission, had indelible consequences for the format of the investigation that was to be conducted, for the mode of engagement with the Commission by third parties who gave evidence, for the rights of those third parties, for the Commission’s report, and for its records.

The entire premise of the 2004 Act is that investigations are held in private. Where commissions are held entirely in private, their records constitute confidential evidence given in private. That confidentiality applies seamlessly to the evidence and records gathered by the inquiry, both during the life of a commission of investigation itself, and after its dissolution when records have been deposited with the Minister.

The GDPR right to access personal data is expressly restricted by the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004. The 2004 Act provides for the means whereby the archive, and the confidentiality of that archive, are to be preserved. Any disclosure by a department of the records deposited with it is prohibited by law and would be an offence.

Section 11(3) of the 2004 Act will continue to prohibit disclosure of evidence given or the contents of any document produced by a witness while giving evidence in private, except in very limited exceptions which would not be applicable in this instance. After a 30 year period has elapsed, decisions on access at that time and thereafter are governed by Section 8 of the National Archives Act.

Question No. 653 answered with Question No. 646.

National Archives

Ceisteanna (654, 655)

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

654. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration his views on whether, as demonstrated by his proposed legislation, the Houses of the Oireachtas has the power to legislate in order that the entire archive is not sealed for the next 30 years but instead is made available in a differentiated manner depending on the information concerned. [27323/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

655. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration the justification he can provide for sealing State administrative records that should otherwise be in the National Archives of Ireland due to the fact they are Departmental records; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27324/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 655 and 654 together.

The arrangements for preserving the records compiled by a Commission of Investigation in the course of its work are prescribed in the Commissions of Investigation Act, 2004. Section 43(2) of the Act directs that, on submission of its final report, the Commission will stand dissolved, and, prior to its dissolution, it must deposit all records with the prescribed Minister. On the expiry of a 30 year period, such records are considered for transfer to the National Archives and access is regulated in accordance with the National Archives Act, 1986.

The records of a Commission comprise all the evidence received by, and all documents created by or for, the commission in the course of its statutory inquiries. For the avoidance of any doubt, it is important to clarify that the Commission is not in possession of original departmental records and no original records will be sealed by these arrangements. State records remain in the possession of the relevant statutory body and appropriate access is regulated in accordance with relevant statute.

Given the particular challenges and opportunities raised by the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation in relation to the finalisation of its records, I sought Government approval for the urgent drafting of legislation to provide a bespoke solution to this issue. The proposed legislation provides certainty as to the immediate future of the specific database and associated records. The development of this database could be one of the most significant outcomes from the Commission’s work. I am satisfied that the Houses of the Oireachtas has the power to legislate in these terms. I am also mindful of the need to achieve this policy objective in a manner which does not undermine the current legal framework for current or future Commissions of Investigation.

It must be emphasised that unrestricted use or open public access to the information contained in the database is not being proposed. Importantly, in bringing forward this Bill, it is not proposed that it would extend to providing a basis for any new entitlement or right for access by individuals to these records. Access to personal information held in these records will continue to be regulated by the Adoption Act 2010, GDPR and Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, having regard to the constitutional rights of third parties.

In advancing this bespoke legislation, I also wish to reiterate my commitment to advancing a comprehensive statutory basis for enhanced information and tracing services, while noting the complex constitutional issues which this involves and the absolute urgency of ensuring that the Commission’s database can be safeguarded in the immediate term.

I look forward to engaging with the Deputy on the development of the new statutory framework in the near future.

Third Level Admissions

Ceisteanna (656, 681)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

656. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the steps being taken to ensure that reapplicants that sat the leaving certificate in previous years are not locked out of third-level education in view of the inflation in CAO points in 2020; if work is being undertaken on finding a solution to resolve the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26287/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

681. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the measures being taken to facilitate leaving certificate students from a previous year that are unsuccessful in the CAO in 2020 due to the increase in points caused by the calculated grades of the class of 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27160/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 656 and 681 together.

The CAO system is a system that works on the assumption that grades obtained in the Leaving Certificate by candidates determine their points. It is on this basis that the CAO system allocates places to applicants including those from different years. To ensure impartiality, the automatic CAO points systems have been created in a way that does not allow for different treatment to be applied to different sub-groups.

In order to help mitigate the impact of the changes to the grading system I announced the creation of an additional 2,225 places on high-demand courses in Higher Education Institutions. These places were provided in order ensure that as many students as possible could be accommodated on a course of their choice, given the unprecedented circumstances they are facing. These additional places meant that as of Round Two 63,338 applicants have received a CAO offer, more than in any previous year.

Nonetheless, there were fluctuations in CAO points this year, as there are every year. The changes in points depend not only on the grades received by applicants but also on the number of applicants, and the number of places available. As we are in the midst of a global pandemic and economic flux, there is more volatility than usual this year due to factors such as reduced opportunities in the economy, students seeking to defer or re-apply in subsequent years and uncertainty around students travelling internationally both to and from Ireland.

I appreciate how difficult a time it has been for students and parents, but I would like to stress the range of options available both in further education and training and apprenticeships, but also in pathways in higher education. For those whose route into higher education may not be what they originally planned, once they have a place there may be a pathway back to their preferred option.

Third Level Admissions

Ceisteanna (657, 659)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

657. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed. [26292/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

659. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of clerical errors made by the CAO that have resulted in students not getting their correct course of choice; the steps taken to rectify such errors which are not made by the students in circumstances in which clerical errors arise as a result of the incorrect exam and CAO number being assigned; the steps available to students to ensure such errors are rectified immediately allowing students to receive their appropriate offers in first round offers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26451/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 657 and 659 together.

Universities and Institutes of Technology are autonomous and determine their own procedures for admission. The CAO process applications for undergraduate, and some postgraduate, courses on their behalf.

Decisions on admissions are made by the higher education institutions who then instruct the CAO to make offers to successful candidates. Therefore neither I nor my Department have a function in relation to such matters and information on clerical errors in CAO applications is not held in my Department.

I understand, based on the information available to me, that where the CAO is notified of an error in an application after Round One offers have issued, they update the account information and ask the higher education institutions to consider them for Round Two. A portion of the offers that are issued in Round Two every year, including this year, are to applicants who needed to be accommodated after adjustments had been made due to applicant omissions or errors, or administrative errors caused by the higher education institutions or CAO.

I appreciate that it is very upsetting for an applicant to realise their examination information was incorrect, and every effort has been made by CAO and the higher education institutions to facilitate such applicants in Round Two.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question No. 659 answered with Question No. 657.

Ceisteanna (658, 666, 667)

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

658. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the Covid-19 safety guidelines and rules which apply to the English language education and English as a foreign language sector; if these are the same as other higher level educational environments; if there are differences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26386/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

666. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if the English language education sector falls under his remit or that of the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht; if the sector should follow the reopening guidelines for tourism or for the higher and further education; and the body responsible for inspecting such schools to ensure compliance with the guidelines. [26350/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

667. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if the English language education sector falls under higher education; and if so, if the sector should follow the reopening guidelines for same. [26391/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 658, 666 and 667 together.

English language education (ELE) in Ireland is a broad and diverse sector with the vast majority of activity undertaken by private sector providers. I am aware of the challenges that are being encountered in this sector and the substantial impact that the Covid-19 outbreak has had on its students, teachers and providers.

As part of the response to the pandemic, my Department established a specific Working Group for this sector. This group is comprised of representatives of relevant Government Departments alongside the representative bodies of students, staff and English language education providers.

This Working Group has recently been reconstituted with an expanded membership to support the sector to develop and refine more detailed reopening protocols specifically for English language education. The ELE protocols will be in line with wider public health guidelines and the Government’s recently published Framework for Restrictive Measures. These protocols will be informed, where appropriate, by existing protocols for comparable educational settings.

Adherence to public health guidelines must be an absolute priority for this sector with an emphasis placed on the safety and welfare of their students. Where there is a concern as regards the safe management of an ELE classroom setting, this should be reported to the appropriate authorities. The Health and Safety Authority is empowered to undertake inspections of providers and where considered appropriate may close a premises that is deemed unsafe.

Question No. 659 answered with Question No. 657.

Student Universal Support Ireland

Ceisteanna (660)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

660. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of letters and emails received regarding students that had issues with their SUSI grant applications in each of the past five years. [26701/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

The Student Grant Scheme is administered by the centralised national grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), a business unit of CDETB (City of Dublin Education and Training Board), on behalf of the Department. The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for SUSI to determine.

If an individual applicant considers that he/she has been unjustly refused a student grant, he/she may appeal, in the first instance, to his/her awarding body. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by the awarding authority and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Since the new Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science was established on 13 July 2020, I can confirm that my Department has received approximately 70 emails in relation to SUSI grant applications and appeals.

The student grant scheme is a statutory based scheme and my Department has no role in awarding student grants it is a matter for the grant awarding authority.

Information in relation to student grant assistance is available from SUSI’s website, www.susi.ie. Students may contact SUSI’s Helpdesk with any queries in relation to their grant application or the appeals process by telephone 0761 087 874 or email support@susi.ie.

As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by SUSI, to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications. Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. The telephone number for the Oireachtas Helpdesk is 0761 088922 or 0761 088909. 

When letters or emails are received by the SUSI Support Desk regarding issues that students have with their applications they are advised of the SUSI Formal Complaints Submission Process.

See below table for Formal Complaints received by SUSI in relation to each academic year from 2015/16 to 2020/21 (to date).

SUSI Formal complaints received*

2015/16

156

2016/17

136

2017/18

132

2018/19

149

2019/20

120

2020/21

56 (to date)

*The data provided in the table is in respect of students who applied for a grant from SUSI the centralised grant awarding authority, which was established in 2012.  It does not encompass data relating to the 66 awarding authorities who have continued to process renewal applications on a transistionary basis.

Student Grant Scheme

Ceisteanna (661)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

661. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of students that applied for a SUSI grant in each of the years 2015 to 2019 and to date in 2020; the number of students that were granted and refused a grant in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26702/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

The data provided in the table below is in respect of students who received a grant from SUSI the centralised grant awarding authority, which was established in 2012.  It does not encompass data relating to the 66 awarding authorities who have continued to process renewal applications on a transistionary basis.

Breakdown of Applications   Received - Awarded - Refused 2015 to Date

Year

New Awarded

Renewal Awarded

New Refused

Renewal Refused

Total Received

2015/2016

43,483

40,522

17,406

1,172

108,205

2016/2017

43,784

40,309

15,123

2,509

105,309

2017/2018

42,639

39,386

14,415

2,703

103,373

2018/2019

39,719

39,869

13,338

2,482

98,795

2019/2020

37,839

38,463

13,867

2,736

96,094

2020/2021 (to date)

34,481

38,562

10,259

919

96,446

Note that not all those who are awarded will draw down the grant as some students may defer their place, not proceed to college, drop out etc.

Student Grant Scheme

Ceisteanna (662)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

662. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if a person (details supplied) is entitled to the special rate SUSI grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26909/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members.  This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.

This service which was set up at the behest of Oireachtas members, complements the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.  Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI oireachtas@susi.ie.  Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

 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 e.g. progressing to Level  9 Post graduate. 

In order to be eligible for the special rate of grant in the 2020/21 academic year, the reckonable income must include on 31st December 2019 one of the eligible long term payments listed in Schedule 2 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020. 

With regard to this specific application, I been advised by my officials that the student in question was issued an award letter of €2,000 post graduate fee contribution in May this year. It was noted by the awarding authority that the applicants mother passed away in December 2019. As both of the applicant's parents are deceased the applicant was assessed on her own income and she did not have a qualifying eligible social welfare payment in her own right.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by an appeals officer in SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe (i.e. not later than 30 days after the notification of the determination of the appeals officer to the applicant). Such appeals can be made by the appellant on line via www.studentgrantappeals.ie. To date no appeal has been received by the Student Grant Appeals Board from the applicant.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, the Deputy will be aware of the recently announced €168m funding package for the return to education. This package includes a €10m access support package for higher education students. I have approved the allocation of €8.1m of this funding to top up the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). The SAF 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 situation. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

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

Student Support Schemes

Ceisteanna (663)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

663. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if it will be ensured that persons born and resident here that are not Irish, EU, UK, EEA or Swiss nationals will be considered as being students under section 14 of the Student Support Act 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27105/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means. The nationality requirements for the student grant scheme are set out in section 14 of the Student Support Act 2011 and regulation 5 of the Student Support Regulations 2020. To qualify for a student grant, it is the candidate's nationality or his/her immigration status in the State that determines whether or not he/she meets the nationality requirement outlined in the Act and Regulations.

The Department of Justice and Equality adjudicates on a person's entitlement to remain in the State and on the stamp that is awarded where permission to remain is sanctioned

Article 32 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020 provides for a review of eligibility for the award of a grant in the event of a change of circumstances in the academic year, including a change in relation to a student's nationality or immigration status. Where a student acquires Irish citizenship by naturalisation, or is granted one of the permission to remain criterion provided for in the Act or Regulations during the course of their studies, he/she may apply to SUSI to have his/her application re-assessed.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

 SUSI’s online application process for student grant applications for the 2020/21 academic year opened on 23rd April, 2020. Further information in relation to student grant assistance is available from SUSI’s website, www.susi.ie. The telephone number for SUSI’s Helpdesk is 0761 087 874.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, the Deputy will be aware of the recently announced €168m funding package for the return to education. This package includes a €10m access support package for higher education students. I have approved the allocation of €8.1m of this funding to top up the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). The SAF 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 situation. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

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

Student Support Schemes

Ceisteanna (664)

Seán Canney

Ceist:

664. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if funding will be made available to mature and access students to purchase laptops in order to avail of online and blended learning during the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27343/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

As part of the package of COVID supports for the higher and further education sector approved by Government on 22 July 2020, my Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has allocated €15 million of capital funding for a once-off Covid-19 Grant to support disadvantaged students in accessing ICT devices. This grant is being made available to further and higher education institutions. The institutions are using the grant funding to purchase devices to support disadvantaged students, including students who belong to a National Access Plan target group, who are encountering challenges in accessing devices for online and blended learning.  The distribution of the devices will be via appropriate lending schemes, the associated terms and conditions, will be a matter for each individual further or higher education provider.

Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists full-time and part-time students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the higher education institution (HEI) attended. Institutions have the autonomy to maximise the flexibility in the Student Assistance Fund to support students during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The package of Covid 19 supports referred to above also includes a further €10m in access supports for students. Most of this money will be used to top up the Student Assistance Fund, with remaining funding used to support students via the access services in the higher education institutions.

Research Funding

Questions Nos. 666 and 667 answered with Question No. 658.

Ceisteanna (665)

James Lawless

Ceist:

665. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the position regarding the EU national leaders agreed compromise regarding the EU long-term budget that entails a massive cut to the planned budget for the next framework Programme Horizon Europe and potentially for the European Research Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26273/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

On the 21st July 2020, EU leaders agreed on the next long-term budget for the 2021-2027 period, worth a total of €1,074.3 billion.  They also agreed on the €750 billion recovery effort to help the EU tackle the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is still subject to finalisation with the European Parliament.

With respect to the budget agreed, the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, was allocated €85.5 billion in current prices, with an additional €5 billion being allocated to Horizon Europe from the Next Generation EU recovery fund.  It is expected that the division of funding within Horizon Europe will be agreed by Member States at Competitiveness Council (Research) today 29 September 2020.  The Horizon 2020 allocation is €77 billion in current prices.

Regarding the European Research Council (ERC), the current proposed figures allocate an amount of €14.86 billion to the ERC.  This represents an increase in comparison to the €13.095 billion allocated to the ERC in Horizon 2020 (amounts referenced are current prices).  In addition it must also be recognised that both the long-term budget and Horizon Europe budget is prepared on the basis of 27 Member States, rather than 28.  The proposed Horizon Europe budget does not include the contributions which will be made by non-Member State countries which wish to associate with and participate in the new Framework Programme.

Questions Nos. 666 and 667 answered with Question No. 658.

Third Level Staff

Ceisteanna (668)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

668. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if his Department or the Higher Education Authority has given consideration to the introduction of either a voluntary redundancy scheme or early retirement scheme within the higher education institutions; if his Department has engaged in correspondence with either the Higher Education Authority or higher education institutions on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26541/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

There have been Redeployment Arrangements in place within the higher education institutions since 2014.   My Department is authorised to approve applications for voluntary redundancy under the collective agreement on redundancy for public servants and have been doing so on an individual case by case basis following assessment.

My Department officials and the Higher Education Authority have commenced a process to look at possible voluntary redundancy arrangements or scheme for the technological sector.  

Where any redundancy proposal occurs, then employers must inform the External Staff Relations Section of the Department of Education and Skills as soon as possible to obtain sanction to offer redundancy terms to those staff affected (or their Union representatives). Employers may not process any redundancy terms without prior sanction in writing from the External Staff Relations Section of the Department of Education and Skills.