An extra €2,000 a year will be spent on every student in Ireland under the Government’s new third-level funding plan
The new ‘Funding the Future’ plan is due to be published later today.
The plan commits to an extra €307m annual investment in third level education – on top of the current annual spend of €2bn.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said specific changes to fees and grants can’t be announced until Budget Day.
He insisted that he is “very clear” that the current annual registration fee of €3,000 is too high and needs to be reduced.
“We have put a figure on the amount we need to invest in the third-level education system and it is €307m,” he said.
“So, we have now settled the question of how much more money do you need to put into Irish Universities to properly fund them and fund them on a level maybe comparable with say Sweden.
“That works out at spending roughly €2,000 per student on their education.”
While specifics on fee changes can’t be revealed, Minister Harris said a €500 reduction for every student would cost about €40m.
He said registration fees are now 16 times higher than they were in 90s.
“The policy win today is the fact the Government is very clearly stating that it wants to reduce the cost on working families of sending their kids to college,” he said.
“People are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and if you had two kids for example going to college in the 90s, the registration fee for four-year degrees would be about €1,500 for the two of them for four years.
“That is now €24,000 for two kids for four years. Yes, lots of people get grants but there is also a squeezed middle that never gets any support from what I can see and I really want to see what we can do to help them.”
Minister Harris said the new programme also aims to increase the number of lecturers available per student – noting that the EU norm is 15 students per lecturer, while in Ireland, the ratio is 20-1.
He said it also aims to create better pathways between further education and higher education.
“I don’t think it is right that someone doing a pre-nursing degree - a nursing PLC - can do really well in the local college of further education and then head to Scotland to do their degree,” he said.
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