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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 68-82
 Header Item Disadvantaged Status
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Payments
 Header Item Student Support Schemes Issues
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Delays
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Delays
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Psychological Services
 Header Item Computerisation Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 68-82

Disadvantaged Status

 68. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will clarify the situation regarding a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55734/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in the recent budget and there will no reduction in teacher numbers in primary schools and in free second level schools for the 2013/14 school year as a result of the budget. The DEIS scheme for disadvantaged schools is also fully protected with no overall changes to staffing levels or funding as a result of the budget. The school referred to by the Deputy continues to receive the DEIS grant which has not been affected by the Budget measures. In addition, the following resources continue to be provided:

- additional Book Grant over and above that paid to other schools

- additional staffing to implement more favourable class sizes

- allocation of administrative principals on lower enrolment than applies in primary schools generally

- access to School Completion and Home School Community Liaison

- access to School Meals provision

- access to literacy/numeracy supports such as reading recovery, maths recovery, first steps

- access to a range of professional development supports

- access to homework clubs and transfer programmes

- access to planning supports

I acknowledge that the various budget measures that have taken place in recent years have impacted on schools however my Department, like all other Government Departments, is operating within a budgetary programme that is designed to return the Government finances to a sustainable basis. All public servants are required to do more with less and teachers in our schools are not exempt from this requirement.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 69. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the cost to his Department if the income threshold for liability to pay the registration fee was increased by €10,000 and €20,000 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55763/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In order to estimate the potential savings arising from the 3% reduction in income thresholds for the 2013/14 academic year announced in the Budget, an analysis of the available information on the reckonable incomes of students currently in receipt of a grant was utilised.

However, in order to carry out the exercise requested by the Deputy, related to the estimation of the potential cost involved in increasing the income thresholds for payment of the Student Contribution under the Student Grant Scheme, information on those students whose reckonable income would be between €55,920 - €65,920 and €65,920 - €75,920 respectively would be required. In general terms we would need to know how many students would come from families whose income would come within the ranges put forward by the Deputy. The Deputy will appreciate that this information is not readily available to the Department.

Student Grant Scheme Payments

 70. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he proposes to increase the funding for the student assistance fund, to €12 million per annum, in view of the high demand for this fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55764/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The objective of the Student Assistance Fund is to assist students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise, due to their financial circumstances, be unable to continue their third level studies. The Fund is managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of my Department and is administered by the individual third level institutions.

My Department has recently received an up to date report on the demand for the scheme from the HEA and this report is currently being considered.

Student Support Schemes Issues

 71. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he intends to negotiate a low-interest loan scheme with credit unions that would be guaranteed by the State for postgraduate students; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55765/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I have no plans at present to negotiate a State-guaranteed loan scheme for postgraduate students with the credit unions.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 72. Deputy Derek Keating Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn following his budget announcement of 2013 and his Department’s decision in relation to a teacher-student ratio of 1:19 in PLCs and colleges of further education, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this decision will result in the loss of five teachers in Inchicore College of Further Education and approximately 50 to 55 teachers in the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee colleges, and impact in terms of the success rate in institutes of further education and the vocational education committees in providing access to those who have been long-term unemployed or even disadvantaged in their own education some 20 to 30 years ago and now seek an opportunity to retrain, re-educate and seek a second chance of career development; if he will examine this decision and its impact; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55776/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon The pupil-teacher ratio for Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses - which are mainly geared at school leavers and adults returning to education - is more favourable than the ratio in second level schools. The Government has decided to raise the pupil teacher ratio for PLC courses to the same level as that which applies in all free second-level schools – 19:1, from next September.

This decision is being made at a time when the Government has succeeded in protecting the class sizes in primary and free second-level schools for the coming year, ensuring that our limited resources are rightly focussed on the children in our education system.

While it would be preferable not to have to make any changes, it is hard to justify providing more generous pupil-teacher ratios to PLCs which educates adults, than second-level schools which cater for teenagers.

This change will reduce the number of teaching posts by 200 in PLC courses and may lead to some reduction in subject choices for students. The further education sector has expanded rapidly over the past few decades, developing many innovative programmes for its students. It is now up to the CEOs of each VEC to look at the resources available to them and to work with their Principals and staff to ensure they can continue to deliver programmes which closely meet the needs of both students and employers.

PLC providers have been enrolling significantly above their allocation of places in recent years, and I do not expect that this measure will impact on the number of PLC places available.

This necessary change will result in an estimated saving of €12mn in a full year. As the change will be introduced at the start of the academic year in September 2013 the savings from Sept to Dec 2013 will be €4mn. It is not possible to amend this measure without introducing additional Budget measures in education which would impact on other frontline services.

There will be no change to the number of PLC places sanctioned by my Department. City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee (CDVEC) currently have an allocation of 457 teaching posts. Their revised allocation will be 409 teaching posts.

These changes will not take effect until September 2013. In the meantime CDVEC will have an opportunity to plan for the reduced allocation across the schools/colleges under their remit.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

 73. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when the overdue grant payment will be processed by Student Universal Support Ireland in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55777/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy a decision has now been made and a letter will issue directly to the student outlining the position in the coming days.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 74. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a third level grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in respect of their application to Student Universal Support Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55790/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The decision on eligibility for new student grant applications from the 2012/13 academic year is a matter for the new centralised grant awarding authority, SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland).

  The student referred to by the Deputy had his application cancelled by SUSI as it was incomplete. On 7th November, 2012 a letter was issued by SUSI to the student informing him that his application was cancelled and advising him to reapply.

  When re-applying for a student grant it will be necessary for the student to complete all sections of the application form.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 75. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in view of announcements made in budget 2013, if he will give assurances to students in receipt of a maintenance and top-up grant for the academic year 2012-2013 under the category NA1-T, that second and subsequent instalments are guaranteed and have not been affected by budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55817/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As announced in the Budget, the income thresholds for student grants will be reduced by 3% for the 2013/14 academic year. This change will not affect Special Rate students, who are the most vulnerable category of students in receipt of grant support.

This change will not affect grant entitlement for any students in the 2012/13 academic year.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

 76. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who has been awarded and paid the higher education grant has yet to receive the confirmation letter that they require for their college from Student Universal Support Ireland stating that their tuition fees are covered. [55822/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that, in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, a revised grant award letter issued on 11th December 2012 outlining the level of award including the decision in relation to her fees.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 77. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a top-up grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55824/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, her student grant application was unsuccessful and that she appealed the decision to the appeals officer in SUSI and their original decision was upheld.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Departmental Contracts

 78. Deputy Damien English Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide details of each service in his Department that is currently outsourced; the company that provides such services and the total cost for these services; the other services which may be outsourced in the future that are currently being run in his Department; the names of the companies, fees paid and nature of service for all contracts awarded from his Department excluding legal, accounting, PR or building refurbishment related services since March 2011.  [55828/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department procures a broad spectrum of goods, services and works in support of its role in administering the wider education sector. These goods, services and works are not procured centrally. Rather they are procured by many different business units and, in accordance with national and European Union procurement procedures, the method of procurement varies depending on the value of the contracts in question. My Department does not centrally collate details of all contracts awarded.

The external delivery of services is one of the key areas highlighted in the Government's Public Service Reform Plan published in November 2011. Arising from a Government Decision in July, Departments are required, when evaluating any proposed new service, to include an appraisal of the costs and benefits of delivering the service using external providers. While, to date, no proposal for a new Department service has been considered under this provision, my Department is addressing the issue of external service delivery in the context of other initiatives underway across the Education sector, such as the use of aggregated procurement and shared services.

For the information of the Deputy my Department outsourced the provision of security services for the Marlborough Street complex in June 2011. This service was previously provided by the Office of Public Works. The annual cost of the contract is €273,454.

Psychological Services

 79. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on correspondence regarding a psychological assessment in respect of a person (details supplied).  [55839/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I can inform the Deputy that an official from my Department's National Educational Psychological Service has been in communication with the authorities in St. Pauls Secondary School in relation to the student referred to in his question, in order to assess the need and appropriateness of undertaking an educational psychological assessment. I shall revert to the Deputy when a determination is made in this connection.

Computerisation Programme Expenditure

 80. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will make funding available for computer upgrading or replacement to a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55842/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As you will be aware, integrating ICT into teaching and learning in schools is a major priority for this Government. My Department's ICT in Schools programme sets out a clear agenda to be pursued in this regard, focusing on four main priorities: ICT Infrastructure in schools, the Schools Broadband Scheme, the development of teacher skills, and the provision of curriculum-relevant digital content.

On the infrastructure side, the Department has distributed more than €90m in ICT Infrastructure grants to schools nationwide since 2009, including allocations of €22,663.65 and €24,809.74 in 2010 to the school referred to by the Deputy. The priority under this grant scheme was the equipping of all classrooms with a digital projector, teaching computer and wireless keyboard and mouse. This ICT infrastructure grant schemes is now fully disbursed. There are no plans to introduce a new Infrastructure Grant Scheme in 2012 in view of budgetary pressures.

Work has commenced on the development of a new ICT Strategy for schools. The first step in this process is the completion of an ICT Infrastructure census in schools. Drafting of the census is currently taking place. The new ICT Strategy will address the new policy challenges and opportunities arising from major developments in curricular reform, digital publishing, digital content dissemination tools generally, cloud services, portable computing and student devices and the deployment of high speed broadband at post-primary level.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 81. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the options open to a person (details supplied) in County Cork in terms of financial assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55857/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, his student grant application was unsuccessful and that she appealed the decision to the appeals officer in SUSI and their original decision was upheld.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Departmental Expenditure

 82. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will outline the full list of cuts to the education budget in 2013 including cuts that were announced as part of budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55868/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Details of the savings measures for the Education and Skills Vote announced as part of Budget 2013 are available on my Department's website as follows:

My Department's Budget Press Release and an accompanying listing of the main Budget features are at http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2012-Press-Releases/PR2012-12-05.html. This material also includes information regarding previous Budget measures that will impact in 2013.

  Details of the 2013 Budget skeleton for the Education and Skills Vote, in both the new Performance Budgeting format and the old format, are at:   http://www.education.ie/en/publications/estimates. In addition, 'The Department of Public Expenditure & Reform Expenditure Report 2013', which gives overall budget expenditure details, including details by individual Department, is available at: http://per.gov.ie/estpubexp2013/.


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