Third Level Costs

Ceisteanna (669, 670, 671, 672, 673, 674)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

669. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the expenditure by each university on hotel accommodation in each of the years from 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form. [26542/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

670. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the expenditure by each university on restaurants and catering in each of the years from 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form. [26543/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

671. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the expenditure by each university on advertising and sponsorship in each of the years from 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form. [26544/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

672. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the expenditure by each university on international air travel in each of the years from 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form. [26545/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

673. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the expenditure by each university on legal services in each of the years from 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form. [26546/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

674. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the expenditure by each university on travel and subsistence for its president or provost in each of the years from 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26547/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 669 to 674, inclusive, together.

My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to HEA designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions. As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding, including any expenditure on the items queried by the Deputy, are a matter for the individual institution.

The information requested is not readily available in the format requested by the Deputy. However, to assist the Deputy my officials have requested that the HEA undertake to collate the data from the Universities and the details will be communicated to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Ceisteanna (675)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

675. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the position regarding the inclusion of bakers within apprenticeship programmes offered by education and training boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26566/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

Apprenticeship is a demand driven educational and training programme which aims to develop the skills of an apprentice in order to meet the needs of industry and the labour market. The development of new apprenticeships is employer-led, with consortia comprising employer groups and educational providers coming together to identify a skills need and appropriate apprenticeship response in their sector. The Apprenticeship Council examine any proposals arising in the context of identified skills needs.

A proposal for a Bakery apprenticeship was initiated by the sector in 2015 and a proposed level 6 programme was part developed, however ultimately a decision not to proceed was made by the consortium and this was communicated to SOLAS in July 2019. There is currently no Bakery apprenticeship in development.

It is open to any industry that wishes to explore options for developing an apprenticeship to bring a proposal forward to the Apprenticeship Council. The SOLAS Guidance Document for Submitting an Initial Proposal for a New National Apprenticeship is attached. This document together with a Handbook on Developing a National Apprenticeship, which is available on www.apprenticeship.ie, provide an overview of the key features of new apprenticeships, including sectoral engagement and collaboration among enterprises and other stakeholders in the relevant industry.

Third Level Institutions

Ceisteanna (676)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

676. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if construction has commenced of a new sports science, health and recreational building at the Tallaght campus of Technological University Dublin; if so, when this project will be completed; and the estimated cost of the project. [26828/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

I can advise the Deputy that the contractor for the new sports science, health and recreational building at the TU Dublin Tallaght campus is currently on site and construction will commence shortly. It is expected that the construction of the project will be completed in December 2021.

This project, which has a total cost of approximately €15 million, is co-funded by my Department and TU Dublin.

Third Level Fees

Ceisteanna (677)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

677. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will consider decreasing the €3,000 maximum rate of the student contribution in view of the fact that many students will not be using third-level facilities due to the Covid-19 emergency period and will instead be attending college courses and lectures remotely; if further consideration will be given to the fact that third-level institutions are charging fees for facilities, for example, gyms that are not open for students to use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26933/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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 fee is currently set at €3,000 per annum and can be paid in instalments. The State pays the contribution in full or part, through SUSI, for approximately 44% of students eligible for free fees.

I am very conscious of the impact of the pandemic has had on our students. In July I announced the provision of additional student assistance including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund, and a €15 million technology fund for devices for students in further and higher education to assist with difficulties in accessing technology to facilitate their course work in a blended capacity. These supports will be distributed through the colleges and further education providers.

The Programme for Government undertakes to provide a long term sustainable funding model for higher education. In addition the range of student supports operated by SUSI will be subject to review. An important objective will be to ensure access to and continued participation in higher education by students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The delivery of further and higher education in the context of Covid-19 will cost the providers more not less. The Government has provided additional funding in the amount of €168m to support the return of students to further and higher education and the additional funding provided for student supports will be of assistance to many students particularly those with the least financial resources.

I will continue to work with further and higher education providers, agencies and key stakeholders including student representatives to mitigate the additional pressures faced as a result of covid-19. Consideration of the student contribution will be in the context of annual estimates discussions and programme for government commitments.

Third Level Education

Ceisteanna (678)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

678. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science when the postgraduate courses announced by him in July 2020 will open for applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27034/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

Under the July stimulus package, an additional 2,650 places will be provided across a range of existing part-time and full-time postgraduate taught programmes. Programmes will be focused on a range of areas where identified skills needs exist.

A call was issued by the HEA to HEIs to indicate the courses and places they wish to provide under this part of the July stimulus. There was strong interest in the initiative, with over 230 proposals for postgraduate courses, from a range of public and private higher education institutions. Further details of the courses available will be available soon. Applications will be directly to the institution and further details of courses and application dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (679)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

679. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and-or recruited by him since his appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities of each; and the salary of each appointee, in tabular form. [27054/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

The following tabular statement gives details of the Special Advisers I have appointed to assist me in carrying out my ministerial duties. In accordance with the Guidelines for Ministerial Appointments as published by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform they are on the Standard Principal Officer payscale. The role of my advisers is to advance my policy agenda and programme for government commitments, working closely with senior officials, as well as having responsibilities for a range of parliamentary and press matters.

Name

Title

Appointment Date

Sarah Bardon

Special Adviser

28 June 2020

Joanne Lonergan

Special Adviser

28 June 2020

Student Accommodation

Question No. 681 answered with Question No. 656.

Ceisteanna (680)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

680. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if students who have paid for accommodation at NUIG will be reimbursed as their courses are now online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27100/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

Under the Universities Act 1997, Universities are autonomous with regard to their academic and administrative affairs, including in relation to student accommodation. It is not within my remit to issue instruction to any university in relation to their on-campus accommodation.

However I understand, based on the information available to me, that NUIG has confirmed that any student who decides not be proceed with their booking in University owned student accommodation due to changes in their timetable will receive a full refund. Students should contact NUIG directly for more information on this.

Question No. 681 answered with Question No. 656.

Third Level Institutions

Ceisteanna (682)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

682. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the steps that can be taken by Trinity College Dublin to ensure a course transfer for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27161/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

Universities are autonomous institutions under the Universities Act 1997, and therefore have the right to manage their own academic and administrative affairs. Any issues in relation to an internal transfer must be resolved by Trinity College itself, and it is not possible for me or my Department to intervene in this matter.

Graduate Nursing Scheme

Ceisteanna (683)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

683. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of student nurses, by institution, due to begin placement in November 2020, in tabular form. [27188/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

An Bord Altranais Requirements and Standards determine which placements a student goes on for each of the four nursing branches - general, children, psychiatry and intellectual disability. The timing of each placement is arranged by individual higher education institutions in consultation with their various health service partners.

Data are collected by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on student enrolments, including enrolments on nursing and midwifery programmes. However, the HEA does not collect data on related clinical placements. As such, the information requested by the Deputy is not available to my Department.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (684)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

684. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of requests on hand from his Department and from State agencies under the aegis of his Department for approval to increase staff levels; the number of public and civil servants in total involved in these requests; the method by which decisions are made on the requests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26474/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

My Department uses workforce planning processes to identify the critical resource needs required to deliver its business goals. Workforce planning is a key tool in enabling my Department to forecast its current and future staffing needs (subject to the limits of the annual estimates process, the usual budgetary constraints and approvals by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform). The Workforce Plan aims to ensure a long-term, proactive and strategic plan by which my Department aims to have the right people, with the right levels of talent and skills, in each location and Division, doing the right thing at the right time.

My Department operates in a rapidly changing environment and its structure must facilitate the flexibility to deploy resources to priority work, as the need arises. As business needs arise, staff are allocated to support organisational priorities within my Department. Overall staffing levels within Divisions are continually monitored and staff transfer in and out of Divisions as the workload demands. Where skills gaps have been are identified, the HR Division reviews these requests on a quarterly basis and approves staff assignments on the basis of business cases made by Divisions. One such iteration of this process has just been completed, so no requests are currently on hand for consideration from within the Department.

The question of staffing levels in the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter, generally delegated to the Agencies themselves and I will ask the Agencies to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter. However, I am aware of one request for additional staff resources, related to Brexit.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (685, 699)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

685. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice if her Department will conduct an investigation into the management of the contracts of a company (details supplied) for direct provision centres in counties Monaghan, Cavan, Meath, Louth and Dublin in the aftermath of the death of a resident in a direct provision centre in Monaghan following their placement in a self-isolation unit. [26769/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

699. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice if she has considered an independent investigation into the management of the contracts of a company (details supplied) for direct provision centres in counties Monaghan, Cavan, Meath, Louth and Dublin. [26454/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Since September 2018, due to a lack of capacity within our accommodation portfolio to meet the demand for accommodation for persons seeking international protection, temporary accommodation has been provided in a number of hotels and guesthouses. Temporary accommodation was sought by way of public advertisement, and the company referred to by the Deputy responded to this request. 

It should be noted that it is on foot of public health advice that residents of our centres are requested to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 or if they are close contacts of others who test positive.  This is to protect the health and wellbeing of other residents.  The decision to move a resident into self-isolation is not a matter for a contractor or for a centre manager.   

Where a person sadly dies while they are being provided with accommodation by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department, we work closely with the centre manager to assist the person’s next of kin, if known, in accessing the supports provided by the State, and to ensure that any residents affected by the death are assisted in accessing services that can support them.  All deaths and serious incidents that occur within accommodation centres provided by the Department are referred to the Gardaí as a matter of course and the Gardaí in turn refer all deaths to the local Coroner’s Office. 

In addition, my Department has funded an in-reach service with Monaghan Integrated Development and the Jesuit Refugee Service for residents of these emergency centres to identify issues or concerns needing to be addressed.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (686)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

686. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice if her Department will ensure that the quality of food in direct provision centres is child friendly, palatable and meets nutritional guidelines for daily nutritional intake in view of the many reports and photographic evidence of the atrocious meals provided to persons in direct provision centres nationally. [26771/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

It is a contractual obligation on all service providers of accommodation centres that a 28 day menu be provided and that residents are consulted on that menu. Menus must meet the reasonable dietary and cultural needs of the different ethnic groups accommodated at the centre and the reasonable prescribed dietary needs of any resident. Menus must include a vegetarian option and all food products provided must have a traceability system that complies with food safety requirements.

Residents may advise their accommodation centre manager of any dietary requirement that they have and this will be facilitated, where possible. Arrangements can also be made to cater for particular religious needs, for example, Muslim residents who are observing Ramadan.

More than 65% of all residents now have access to independent living and cooking facilities. The aim is to have all residents in commercial centres benefitting from independent living (cooking facilities and onsite food hall) by next year.

For those accommodation centres which have already moved to the independent living model, residents are provided with ingredients and household items at no cost and cook for themselves and their families. These centres must provide a wide range of products which are culturally appropriate and meet the dietary needs of residents.

In relation to emergency accommodation, my Department has contracted with providers for bed and full board (three meals per day) on an emergency basis due to insufficient capacity within my Department’s current accommodation portfolio. My officials are working to ensure that residents in emergency accommodation are there for as short a period as possible before being re-accommodated in dedicated accommodation centres. My officials work closely with staff and residents in emergency accommodation to address any issues that may arise.

Complaints by residents may arise from time to time in relation to dietary matters, which may be brought to the attention of the centre manager. If the resident is not satisfied with the outcome, they can make a complaint to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department, which will be investigated by my officials and action taken as appropriate. If the issue is still not resolved to the satisfaction of the resident, they can make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman or to the Ombudsman for Children, as appropriate, for their investigation.

All accommodation centres are also subject to regular unannounced inspections by staff from my Department and an independent inspector (QTS). Part of the inspection process deals directly with the provision of food services. Meals are assessed during inspection for quality, cultural appropriateness and variety of menu options. Any issues identified are notified to the contractor to be addressed immediately.

New National Standards for Accommodation Centres were published in August 2019, which will come into operation in January 2021. The Standards include commitments in relation to the provision of food, including access to a varied diet that respects cultural, religious, dietary, nutritional and medical requirements.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (687, 701)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

687. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice if her Department will ensure there is a fair complaints procedure for persons in direct provision centres in view of the fact that they have no or very little recourse to respond to abuse of power or neglect by staff, managers or owners of direct provision centres. [26772/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

701. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice if she has considered, in the context of direct provision centres, the fact that there appears to be no fair complaint procedure for the members of communities in direct provision and they have no way to respond to an abuse of power or to neglect. [26456/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 687 and 701 together.

My Department takes any complaints from residents very seriously and all residents are made fully aware of their ability to contact my Department at any time in confidence.

There are fair complaints procedures in place for residents. Where appropriate, most complaints should be brought to the centre manager in the first instance. This also applies to international protection applicants who have been provided accommodation in hotels or guest houses as a temporary measure.

If the resident is not satisfied with the outcome, he or she can make a complaint directly to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department, which will be investigated by my officials and acted on appropriately. If the matter is still not resolved to the resident's satisfaction, she or he can raise a complaint with the Offices of the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children, as appropriate, for investigation by their officials.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, IPAS also held regular clinics in accommodation centres where applicants were invited to meet an IPAS officer in person and to raise any issues or concerns directly with him or her. These clinics will resume once public health officials advise that it is safe to do so. In the interim, virtual clinics have been held in some centres which enable issues to be raised. A confidential Freephone support service run by the Jesuit Refugee Service with funding from my Department has also been established as an additional support for residents during this time.

It will be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, following the transfer of this function to his Department to make any decisions around future accommodation and service provision, including any new complaints procedure.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (688)

Darren O'Rourke

Ceist:

688. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons who have been refused entry to the State for a failure to complete the passenger locator form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27233/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Border Management Unit (BMU) of my Department has responsibility for securing Ireland’s border at Dublin Airport, in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Acts and Orders as they relate to entry and refusal of entry to the State.

The BMU collected and checked Public Health Passenger Locator Forms at Dublin Airport between 28 April 2020 and 25 August 2020, and undertook the follow-up phone calls on arrivals into Dublin Airport and all other ports of entry nationwide on behalf of the health authorities. This follow-up function transferred to the Department of Health on 26 August 2020. The BMU still collect and check the passenger locator forms at Dublin Airport.

The mandatory regime, as set out in the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) Regulations 2020, for completion of Public Health Passenger Locator Forms by all arriving passengers into the State (excluding the exempt categories) came into effect on 28 May 2020.

Any passenger refusing to complete the mandatory form at Dublin Airport is referred to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

To date, five passengers at Dublin Airport have been referred to the GNIB for refusing to complete a form and all five were granted leave to land. The GNIB is currently following up with four of these five people, with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Public Inquiries

Ceisteanna (689)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

689. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice the steps she will take to establish a public inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27338/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, a retired judge, Gerard Haughton, is conducting a scoping exercise into the tragic death of the person in question, whose case has been discussed in Dáil Éireann on a number of occasions. The judge furnished an interim report to my predecessor on 13 November last. Following consultation between Judge Haughton, the family concerned, and the Attorney General, the interim report was published on 17 December 2019.

In his interim report, Judge Haughton states that he will not restrict or limit the family in their submissions to him or the nature and extent of the documentation they wish to furnish to him in his scoping exercise.

I am glad to note that the family are working with Judge Haughton. My Department is in regular contact with the judge and has assured him of any assistance he requires to complete his final report.

It is of course open to the judge to make any recommendation he sees fit in his final report, including the establishment of any form of statutory or non-statutory inquiry. I will await the recommendation of Judge Haughton in his final report before making any decision in relation to further inquiries into this matter.