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Written Answers - Higher Education Grants

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 235.  Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his plans to reintroduce postgraduate grants or if there is a plan to bring in a student loan scheme to finance postgraduate studies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24063/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In the context of the necessary but difficult expenditure reduction measures announced in Budget 2012, new students entering postgraduate courses from the 2012/13 academic year onwards will not be entitled to maintenance payments under the Student Grant Scheme. Existing postgraduate students will not be affected while pursuing their current course.

In making these changes, I have provided for fee support for those students who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant — they will continue to be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit under the Student Grant Scheme.

In addition, a further limited number of students who would previously have qualified under the standard grant thresholds will qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the costs of their fees. However, there will be a new income threshold for this payment which will be lower than the standard grant threshold. The income threshold for this level of grant is currently being determined in the context of the formulation of the student grant scheme for the 2012/13 academic year.

[383]Tax relief is also available on postgraduate tuition fees. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners.

In addition to this, the Student Assistance Fund will continue to be made available through the access offices of third-level institutions to assist students in exceptional financial need. Also the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) provides funding to both further and higher education institutions for the provision of services and supports for full-time students with disabilities.

My Department is continuing to explore a range of possibilities for the provision of supports to assist students pursuing studies at postgraduate level.

As the Government had factored in the savings from the changes in the student grant scheme to the public expenditure programme for 2012 onwards, I regret that I am not in a position to reverse or vary them.

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