On 4th May I launched the Funding the Future framework which includes the Government's policy response to the Cassells and DG Reform Reviews on the future of higher education and which sets out my intention to implement a progressive range of measures to address costs as a barrier to education, in the context of overall Budgetary decision-making.
I am very conscious of the difficulties that students, like so many others in society, face as a result of the increased costs of living. For students and their families this includes not just costs such as accommodation and food but also education-specific costs such as the student contribution or other fees.
I have regular meetings with the USI and engagement with students across the country and I hear stories of how these costs affect people. As part of the Student Grant Scheme Review a very welcome feature of the process was engagement with students, and I understand that over 9,000 survey responses were received from students across the country. In a specific briefing for USI, as part of the future funding launch, my Department advised USI that we are available to discuss proposals and engage on key priorities of importance to students to inform the design and implementation of Funding the Future.
Future Funding implementation will be based on partnership between Government, the higher education sector and wider societal and enterprise interests. This will entail a stronger focus on measuring and verifying performance from the system, as well as assessing information on costs, quality issues and outcomes which respond to economic and societal need.