Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science | To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which higher-education grants or registration fees are being monitored with a view to ensuring smooth and ready access to third and fourth-level education and high-level apprenticeships in sufficient numbers and with excellence to fill market requirements and compete on the marketplace
To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which higher-education grants or registration fees are being monitored with a view to ensuring smooth and ready access to third and fourth-level education and high-level apprenticeships in sufficient numbers and with excellence to fill market requirements and compete on the marketplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
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.
The policy sets out the vision and direction of higher education funding, our ambitions to drive reform and support agility and responsiveness in the sector, and the need to ensure that students are supported in accessing education and training.
The Government has now made important decisions about the sustainable model for future funding of higher education. Critically, we have definitively taken student loans off the table. We have instead chosen a mixed model of investment, which includes funding from the Exchequer, employers and from students.
I have been clear, however, that I want to see the student contribution in higher education reduced in a meaningful way over the course of future Budgets. I want this done in a way which does not negatively impact on the sustainable core funding for higher education. Higher Education Institutions currently receive c.€438m from student contributions (€248m from students and €190m from the Exchequer through SUSI). Reductions in such income must be offset through increases in other sources of revenue if the quality of higher education programmes and the ability of institutions to meet growing demand is not to be significantly undermined.
With respect to Further Education and Training, provision is largely already free or heavily subsidised. I took the decision as part of Budget 2022 to remove the €200 PLC levy with effect from the next academic year. PLC students who are in receipt of student grants will also benefit from the positive changes I have made to increase the maintenance grant, increase the income threshold and change the non-adjacency criteria.
With respect to apprenticeships, there is no fee levied for the components of apprenticeship training which takes place in an Educational Training Board.
Looking forward to future Estimates processes, my Department’s intention is to publish an annual cost of education paper in advance of each Budget. This will set out the options available to address financial barriers to education, including changes to the student grant scheme, reductions to the student contribution, and other measures. This will seek to inform Budgetary prioritisation to ensure that we fund the most impactful measures to support students and their families.
, in general, made by the individual.
However, and as the Deputy will be aware, there are significant opportunities for employers of all sizes to leverage the National Hub Network directly. More workers than ever are expressing a preference for remote work and more employers, noting the strong professional performance of so many remote workers, see their own interests reflected in the those of their employees.
The connectedhubs.ie team have for some time been developing a corporate service to engage with and support corporate clients interested in using our nationwide network to accommodate their employees, but also to gain access to the vast pool of talent that Ireland has to offer, whether those talented people live in our cities, towns, villages or rural parishes. I believe that this work represents another great step forward for the National hub Network.
I am committed to ensuring that the National Hub Network will continue to make a central contribution to the achievement of the Government’s vision for rural Ireland, as set out in Our Rural Future.
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