Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 22-28
 Header Item State Examinations Issues
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Third Level Funding

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 101 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 22-28

State Examinations Issues

 22. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide an update on the report he has ordered the State Examinations Commission to make into the typographical errors and mistakes that were made on leaving certificate papers; and if he will provide details of the way answers to these questions will assessed in view of these mistakes.  [32211/13]

 25. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will examine the circumstances of the mistakes that were reported in the leaving certificate maths papers; if his Department has carried out an investigation into what happened; if he has taken steps to ensure that the issue does not arise again; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32016/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 25 together.

The State Examinations Commission was established as an independent agency in 2003 to deal with all operational issues relating to State Examinations. The SEC acknowledges that these errors may have caused confusion and distress for some candidates and has apologised publicly. Although the SEC has in place a range of procedures to enhance reliability and to minimise error, it is an unfortunate fact that errors can occur on examination papers from time to time. On occasion, errors are not detected in advance and come to light during or after the sitting of the examination.

In the context of any identified error, the SEC, as a matter of course, reviews its existing processes and procedures in order to implement measures to strengthen the quality assurance underpinning the preparation of examination papers. I have asked the SEC to report to me on this issue. I expect to receive their report in August.

  Questions Nos. 23 and 24 answered with Question No. 9.

  Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 22.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 26. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of Student Universal Support Ireland applications outstanding; the number of applications that are currently under appeal; the impact on students accessing exam results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32275/13]

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 there are 133 cases where a decision on an application has not yet been made. A number of difficult and complex cases arise every year in the course of administering the scheme. I am assured by SUSI that communication with applicants in these cases is being afforded priority to ensure that they are brought to conclusion expeditiously.

492 or 6% of appeals remain to be decided in the SUSI appeals process. I understand from SUSI that these cases are within the 30-day limit prescribed by legislation and are being afforded the highest priority.

Regarding the payment of fees, where a student has informed the institution that a decision is awaited from the grants system, I understand that SUSI has a facility in place allowing institutions to liaise with it directly to confirm the status of an individual application, so that students can access their examination results.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 27. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the extent to which he expects to be in a position to retain workable levels of pupil-teacher ratios in all schools throughout the country, primary and post-primary, private and public, religious and non-denominational, keeping in mind the need to maintain adequate capitation levels; if he accepts that variations already exist in this regard within both the private and the public school sector and between both and the desirability of the need to recognise the difficulties faced at this time of economic stress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32224/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Decisions about staffing and capitation levels for schools have to be considered in the context that my Department, like all other Government Departments, is operating in the context of a budgetary programme that is designed to put the public finances on a sustainable footing. A particular challenge in the education sector is the on-going significant increases in demographics across all levels which are resulting in a requirement for up to 900 additional teachers in the coming school year. I acknowledge the challenges faced by schools in managing the overall impact of budgetary measures over the last 4 years. Budget 2012 provided for an overall reduction of 2% in the funding for capitation and related grants to primary and second level schools in 2012 and 2013 and a further reduction of 1% in 2014 and 2015. In the most recent budget the Government confined staffing measures to the fee-charging sector and protected schools in the free scheme from any changes in pupil-teacher ratios. The DEIS scheme for disadvantaged schools was also fully protected with no overall changes to staffing levels or funding as a result of the budget.

Third Level Funding

 28. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will respond to objections raised by staff of Dublin Institute of Technology regarding the provision of Shell funding towards the new visual arts degree in Erris, County Mayo, which is being offered by DIT and Mayo County Council.  [32217/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The position is that higher education institutions, including Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), are autonomous bodies and their day to day operational affairs including issues such as the provision of on-line courses are the responsibility of the management authority and governing body of the Institute.

However, I understand that the HEA has been in contact with the Institute and has been advised that this course is being made available following an approach made to DIT by Mayo County Council to replicate an existing programme that they offer in Sherkin Island, Co. Cork. DIT has agreed to develop the programme, which can commence in September 2013 subject to sufficient numbers of interested and qualified applicants.

I also understand that DIT is in on-going discussion with colleagues in the relevant department's of the Institute in relation to the delivery of the new programme.


Last Updated: 29/04/2020 15:32:36 First Page Previous Page Page of 101 Next Page Last Page