Bruton defends government spending on higher education

The Education Minister says any decision on introducing a student loan system will need to be made with stakeholder consensus

Bruton defends government spending on higher education

Richard Bruton. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Minister for Education has defended the Government's spending on third level education.

The move comes after the author of an expert report into funding of higher education warned “the status quo” is not an option - with significant changes required to fix the system.

Peter Cassells, the chair of the government’s higher education funding working group, laid out three funding options when he delivered his report to government earlier this year - all of which involve greater state investment with options for student loans and employer contributions.

The options put forward were:

  • The abolition of the student contribution and the creation of a predominantly state-funded system.
  • The continuation of the current student contribution charge coupled with increased state investment.
  • The introduction of an income-contingent loan system.

Speaking during a presentation to the Oireachtas Education and Skills Committee this afternoon, Mr Cassells suggested there could be a form of compromise - adding that the committee could “end up with a hybrid” of all three options.

He said the sector needs additional funding of at least €100m per year moving forward.

“The system is broken,” said Mr Cassells. “There is no other way to describe it and whatever you come up with as a committee, the one conclusion the report came to is that the status quo is not an option.”

“In fact the status quo will actually worsen things significantly.”

The Minister for Education, Richard Bruton defended the government’s spending on higher level and warned consensus will be needed on how to fund the system moving forward.

“For the first time in eight years we have committed to an increased budget,” he said.

“Each year over the next three years we have committed to raising that budget in line with the number of students the system is taking on, so it represents an increased investment of €160m.”

He said any decision on introducing a student loan system would need to be made with consensus: