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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 215 - 224
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Post-Leaving Certificate Courses
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Delays
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 215 - 224

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

 215. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in comparison to last year's figures the number of new or first time grant applications have been received this year. [56476/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that, as at the close of business on the 16th December, it has received 67,029 student grant applications for this academic year.

A survey completed by the grant awarding authorities in January each year provides details in relation to processing of grant applications as at the third week in January. The processing position as at the 21 January 2012 in relation to new applications in 2011/12 academic year was that a total of 66,479 application were received across the 66 awarding authorities of which 8,844 were transferred to another local authority or VEC to whom it was appropriate, which meant that the total number of applications to be processed by these bodies was 57,635 in 2011/12. This data has been compiled from data supplied to my Department by the 66 grant awarding authorities.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 216. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in future years will there be an overall reduction in the moneys allocated for student grants and the proposed figures for same. [56477/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The funding allocation for student grants for future years will be determined in the context of the overall Estimates and Budgetary process undertaken by all Government Departments. It is not, therefore, possible at this stage to predict what the allocation for student grants, will be in the future.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 217. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan in future years will access to grant aid and third level places for the children of low wage families and persons be withdrawn. [56478/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The funding allocation for student grants for future years will be determined in the context of the overall Estimates and Budgetary process undertaken by all Government Departments. It is not, therefore, possible at this stage to predict what funding will be available for students of low income families.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses

 218. 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 if he will outline the impact of changes to pupil-teacher ratios on PLC courses and the total number of teaching posts in the Cavan/Monaghan area in view of Budget 2013; if he will detail the impact assessment that was conducted in advance of this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56479/12]

 239. 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 the number of posts that will be lost in PLC schools as a result of the changes to the pupil teacher ratio in budget 2013 in view of the fact that a significant number of teachers in the further education sector are on part-time fixed term contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56716/12]

 240. 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 the number of persons teaching in PLC schools; the number that are in full time permanent posts and the number that are employed on part time fixed term contract posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56717/12]

 241. 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 in view of the fact that many of the 200 posts to be lost in PLC schools next year are specialist posts, the impact that this will have on cuts to specialist courses and the specialist courses that will be affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56718/12]

 242. 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 provide a breakdown of the number of posts that will be lost in each of the colleges of further education next year following cuts to PLC schools in Budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56719/12]

 262. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on the claims (details supplied) of the CEO of Cork City and County Vocational Education Committee that changes announced in Budget 2013 to the pupil teacher ratio will mean a reduction of 25 full time equivalent or 50 part time teachers across the three further education colleges in County Cork as well as the closure of specialised courses at a college (details further supplied). [56949/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 218, 239 to 242, inclusive, and 262 together.

  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 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 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.

  In 2012, my Department is providing some €160 million in funding for the PLC programme, covering staff costs and non-pay costs, as well as student support. There are 32,688 approved PLC places available nationwide. Places are allocated to VECs, Community and Comprehensive and Voluntary Secondary schools on an annual basis following an application process and VECs are responsible for the further allocation of those places to schools and colleges under their remit.

  Employment of teachers for the PLC programme is a matter for individual VECs or Community and Comprehensive and Voluntary Secondary schools. My Department does not hold details of teacher's contracts therefore no information is available on the number of full time permanent or part time fixed term teachers in PLC.

  These changes will not take effect until September 2013. In the meantime VECs will have an opportunity to plan for the reduced allocation across the schools/colleges under their remit. This necessary change will result in an estimated saving of €12 million 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 €4million. It is not possible to amend this measure without introducing additional Budget measures in education which would impact on other frontline services.

  The table details the reduction in teacher allocation per VEC. The remaining 11 teaching posts will be across a number of schools in the Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive sector who also deliver the PLC programme.

VEC
Reduction in Teacher Allocation
Co. Cavan
8
Co. Carlow
4
Co. Clare
1
City of Cork
24
Co. Cork
8
City of Dublin
48
Co. Dublin
6
Dun Laoghaire
14
Co. Donegal
1
City of Galway
8
Co. Galway
1
Co. Kerry
4
Co. Kildare
2
Co. Kilkenny
3
Co. Laois
3
Co. Leitrim
0
City of Limerick
6
Co. Limerick
2
Co. Longford
3
Co. Louth
7
Co. Mayo
3
Co. Meath
3
Co. Monaghan
2
Co. Offaly
1
Co. Roscommon
1
Co. Sligo
3
Co. Tipperary N.R.
4
Co. Tipperary S.R.
2
City of Waterford
4
Co. Waterford
1
Co. Westmeath
1
Co. Wexford
5
Co. Wicklow
6
Non-VEC providers
11

Student Grant Scheme Delays

 219. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in view of the delay in the administration of student grants in 2012, if he will consider reverting to the old system whereby the grants were administered through the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56501/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The old system of student grant administration involved 66 awarding authorities - 33 local authorities and 33 VECs. This arrangement was widely acknowledged as not being an effective means of administering student grants. Maintaining a system of 66 separate grant-awarding bodies in the face of rising demand was not sustainable. While it has to be acknowledged that Student Universal Support Ireland, (SUSI) the new single awarding authority has had problems in its first year of administration, I do not envisage a return to the old system. The establishment of a single grant awarding body will serve our students better in the long run.

European Council Meetings

 220. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56545/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Minister for Education & Skills sits on the EYCS (Education, Youth, Culture & Sport) Council of the European Union. From March 9th, 2011 to date, there have been 5 meetings of the Council. The dates of each meeting, along with the details of Ministerial and official attendance at same, are as follows:

Date: 20 May 2011 Ministerial attendance: Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD Official attendance: Ms. Geraldine Byrne-Nason, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU Mr. Ronnie Ryan, Minister's Private Secretary Mr. Séamus McLoughlin, Principal Officer Ms. Joanne Tobin, Education & Skills Attaché Mr. Brían O'Meara, Administrative Officer

Date: 28 November 2011 Ministerial attendance: Minister of State for Education, with responsibility for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon TD Official attendance: Mr. Tom Hanney, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU Ms. Anne Griffin, Minister's Private Secretary Mr. Séamus McLoughlin, Principal Officer Ms. Julie Anderson, Education and Skills Attaché Mr. Paul Gordon, Intern

Date: 10 February 2012 Ministerial attendance: Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD Official attendance: Mr. Tom Hanney, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU Mr. Séamus McLoughlin, Principal Officer Mr. Keith Moynes, Assistant-Principal Officer Ms Julie Anderson, Education and Skills Attaché Mr. Brían O'Meara, Administrative Officer

Date: 11 May 2012 Ministerial attendance: Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD Official attendance: Mr. Tom Hanney, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU Mr. Séamus McLoughlin, Principal Officer Mr. Keith Moynes, Assistant-Principal Officer Ms. Julie Anderson, Education & Skills Attaché Mr. Brían O'Meara, Administrative Officer

Date: 26 November 2012 Ministerial attendance: Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD. Official attendance: Mr. Tom Hanney, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU Mr. Ronnie Ryan, Minister's Private Secretary Mr. Séamus McLoughlin, Principal Officer Mr. Keith Moynes, Assistant-Principal Officer Ms. Julie Anderson, Education & Skills Attaché Mr. Brían O'Meara, Assistant-Principal Officer (Acting)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn   Question No. 221 answered with Question No. 210.

Schools Building Projects Status

 222. 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 construction will commence on a project (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56563/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

  The Design Team is currently working on the Stage 2(b) Submission, including the preparation of tender documents, which, on completion, will be forwarded to my Department for review.

  The project is on the 5 year construction programme and is scheduled to commence construction in 2014/15.

Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure

 223. 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 if he has considered the impact of the loss of employment that will arise in various areas as a result of all primary and secondary schools having to obtain their hygiene supplies from certain suppliers and that smaller suppliers who are not in a position to provide an extensive national or regional service even where their prices are good have been excluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56567/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government's Public Service Reform Plan recognises the key strategic importance of public procurement and provides for the development of a new policy framework for procurement. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has recently notified Departments and public bodies of the mandatory requirement to use central contracts, put in place by the National Procurement Service (NPS), when procuring a range of commonly acquired goods and services. These national contracts are targeted at securing best value for money and facilitating Departments and agencies to deliver services within their budgetary constraints. Within the Education Sector, the mandatory arrangement relating to janitorial supplies currently applies to the Higher Education and VEC Sectors.

The NPS is supporting Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) through its education and guidance strategies and many Irish SMEs have been successful in winning NPS frameworks in areas such as stationery, managed print services and ICT consumables. These SMEs may, in turn, source many of their services and products from local manufacturers and agents.

While I appreciate the Deputy's concerns, given the budgetary pressures under which we all now operate, savings on the procurement of goods and services across the public sector can go some way to ensure that the level of service provided to the community is greater than what it might otherwise be.

Schools Building Projects Status

 224. 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 construction will commence on a project (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56573/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that the Contractor has been appointed and that construction on the project commenced earlier this month.


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