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22 May 2022

Landmark policy on funding higher education and reducing cost of education welcomed in Carlow

Landmark policy on funding higher education and reducing cost of education welcomed in Carlow

Landmark policy on funding higher education and reducing cost of education welcomed in Carlow

Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow, Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has welcomed a landmark new policy on funding Higher Education and reducing the cost of education for families.

Deputy Murnane O’Connor commented:

“This new policy, ‘Funding the Future’, which was approved for publication by the Government yesterday, settles the question on funding Higher Education.

“It puts the needs of students and their families front and centre. Taking the financial stress and toll of funding third level education off students and their families is something that has been an issue for a long time now and has impacted many people pursuing further education.”

Today, the Government has decided that income contingent loans for fees will not form part of the future funding model. 

Instead, the Government is committing to a multi-funded model of additional Exchequer investment and employer contributions through the National Training Fund.

A core funding gap of €307 million has been identified. It is intended to provide additional funding through the annual budgetary process to eliminate this funding shortfall and bring core funding into line with our international peers. Funding for future demographic growth and new policy proposals will be in addition to this.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, will progress measures to reduce the cost of education for students and families through changes to the Student Grant Scheme and student contributions over time. 

This will be advanced through the publication of an annual assessment on reducing the cost of education for students and families to inform annual budget processes.

The planned investment of €307 million as part of Funding the Future, and which is in addition to the current €2 billion annual spend on Higher Education in Ireland, will focus on improving the quality of programmes, their outcomes, and providing a third-level education system which is accessible to everyone in society.

The Funding the Future papers also commit to reducing the cost of higher education for students through changes to the Student Grant Scheme and the student contribution. The Minister will continue to prioritise students who have the highest levels of financial difficulty.

As part of these proposals, the Department will seek to simplify the Student Grant Scheme. It will also conduct an analysis of part-time courses with a view to introducing statutory supports for part-time students.

This policy is in response to two independent reports carried out. The first is the European Commission report into funding Higher Education and an Independent Review of the Student Grant Scheme. Both can be found at gov.ie/FutureFunding.

The Minister also confirmed he will chair a new oversight group to drive reforms. This will focus on creating a unified system and improving pathways between further and higher education.

This will be co-chaired by Professor Tom Collins and Professor Anne Looney.

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