Thursday, 22 October 2020

Ceisteanna (136)

Seán Canney

Ceist:

136. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science his views on the fact that fees for Irish students studying elsewhere in the EU are not paid by SUSI, as a maintenance grant alone is payable; his further views on whether this is discriminatory against such students studying in other EU countries as both fees and maintenance grants are available for students studying here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32120/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

The decision on eligibility for a student grant, and the rate payable to applicants deemed eligible for that grant is a matter for SUSI to determine having regard to the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

 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. 

 In relation to support available for students studying abroad, the Student Grant Scheme provides maintenance grants to eligible undergraduate students pursuing approved courses in other E.U. Member States.

 In general, an approved undergraduate course in this context is defined as a full-time undergraduate course of not less than two years duration pursued in a university or third level institution, which is maintained or assisted by recurrent grants from public funds in another EU Member State.

 In relation to supports for students studying in the State there are two categories of student for the purpose of the student  grant scheme - “student” and “tuition student”; broadly a “student” meets the residency requirement in the State, satisfies the nationality requirements and may be eligible for maintenance grant and fee grant whereas the “tuition student” meets the residency requirement in a Member State, the EEA or Switzerland, satisfies the nationality requirements and may be eligible for fee grant only.

 The Student Grant Scheme does not and never has extended to the payment of tuition fees to institutions outside the State other than for exceptional provision in respect of postgraduate courses in Northern Ireland. This provision is consistent with the principles of the Good Friday agreement and is intended to promote greater tolerance and understanding between both jurisdictions.  To fund tuition fees to institutions outside the State would represent a major policy change, which has the potential to impose very significant additional costs for the Exchequer.

 In relation to tuition fees, there is provision for tax relief, at the standard rate in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in other E.U. Member States.