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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 217-236
 Header Item School Staff
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item School Guidance Counsellors
 Header Item Teachers' Professional Development
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item DEIS Expenditure
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Student Grants Data
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Capitation Grants
 Header Item Capitation Grants
 Header Item Capitation Grants
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Third Level Staff Data
 Header Item Third Level Funding
 Header Item National Training Fund
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 217-236

School Staff

 217. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of providing one release day per week for teaching principals for schools of more than 100 pupils, 200 pupils, 300 pupils, 400 pupils, 500 pupils, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17823/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Circular 12/2016, which is available on the Department website, outlines the number of days that teaching principals may take as release time in a school year in order to assist them fulfilling their principal duties. Under these arrangements my Department pays for a substitute teacher to be employed by a school to facilitate administrative functions to be undertaken by the teaching Principal.  Schools with enrolments greater than 177 pupils hold "Administrative Principal" status.

Under the current arrangements the number of days that principal teachers may take as release time in each school year ranges between 15 and 25 days depending on the size of the school.

Improving these arrangements so as to enable teaching principals to have one additional release day per week would cost in the order of €12.5 million per annum.

Teachers' Remuneration

 218. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the detail and value of all previous leadership or management allowances for teachers; the cost of restoring each to 2009 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17789/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton There are limited alleviation arrangements in place for schools that are acutely affected by the impact of the moratorium at Assistant Principal level. These arrangements are mainly focused at post-primary level. It is fair to say that before the moratorium, due to the way the allowances were structured, notwithstanding the fact that one out of every two teachers held a management allowance the workload issue and the pressures on Principals and Deputy Principals existed. The estimated cost of lifting the moratorium on posts of responsibility and restoring them to pre-moratorium levels would be in the order of €50m.

School leaders have a key role to play in determining the shape of our schools and student outcomes. Leading on curricular change and change management are key challenges for every school leader. The challenge for schools and the Department is therefore to build a leadership partnership that is fit for 21st century Ireland and school context.

We have reviewed the role of the principal so that our principals are leaders of learning, and to reconfigure the middle management structure to support principals in their role, ensuring ownership of responsibility rather than tasks, thereby building expertise and supporting a career path within the profession.

Budget 2016 provided 250 posts to second level schools to enable Deputy Principals to be freed up from teaching time and be more fully available to assist the school principal with the leadership of the school. This has been structured in a different way to what existed before the moratorium.  At primary level Budget 2016 provided for additional release days for teaching principals to range between 15 and 25 days depending on the size of the school and effective from the start of the 2016/17 school year. 

Budget 2017 has provided for the equivalent of 170 additional posts to second level schools to employ an additional Deputy Principal to assist the school principal with the leadership of the school. With effect from September 2017, schools with pupil enrolment in excess of 700 will be allocated additional Deputy Principal posts.

Budget 2017 also provides for the commencement of the restoration of middle management posts to lift the rigidity of the longstanding moratorium on these posts in both the primary and post-primary sector. A Department circular is due to issue shortly in relation to these new arrangements.

Strengthening leadership in schools is a major priority of mine and these announcements are initial steps to support and enhance leadership and management in our schools.

School Guidance Counsellors

 219. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of providing one guidance counsellor per 500 pupils at secondary level on an ex-quota basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17790/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Measures announced by my Department as part of Budget 2016 and 2017 mean that 400 guidance posts, or two thirds of the guidance allocation that was withdrawn in Budget 2012, will be restored to schools from September 2017.   

  All these 400 posts are allocated separately and transparently and outside of the quota on the normal schedule of posts.

  The provision of 1 guidance counsellor per 500 students would require 350 posts in addition to the 400 posts which have been restored in Budget 2016 and 2017 at an estimated cost of €22.2m per annum.

Teachers' Professional Development

 220. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the current level of funding allocated to teachers for continuous professional development; the current allocation for employment support; if funding is provided by his Department to support the well-being and mentoring of teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17791/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A key objective in the Action Plan for Education 2016 – 2019 is to develop the continuum of teacher education to equip teachers with the right skills for 21st century teaching and learning and improve school leadership. The quality of our teaching profession is the single most critical factor in sustaining and enhancing the quality of education outcomes in our system. We know that providing the best possible professional development and ongoing practical support to these key people in the education sector is vital if we are to realise the ambitious objectives that we have for Irish education. Specific targets for 2017 are outlined in the Action Plan for Education.

My Department spent approximately €46.5m on teacher continuing professional development (CPD) in 2016 across the primary and post primary sectors. The teacher CPD budget represents 0.56% of my Departments overall net expenditure.

The spend of €46.5m includes all costs associated with the provision of CPD at primary and post primary level funded by my Department.

In 2016, the Centre for School Leadership commenced the delivery of a formal mentoring programme for newly appointed primary and post-primary school leaders. To date, there are 300 primary and 100 post-primary mentors trained to provide this support.

My Department has also put in place an Occupational Health Strategy as a supportive resource for teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs), to promote their health in the workplace, with a focus primarily on prevention rather than cure. The Occupational Health Strategy comprises of the Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme and Occupational Health Services.  These services cater for about 64,000 teachers and 10,000 SNAs in some 4,000 primary and post-primary Schools.

The Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme is a confidential service accessible by means of a freephone telephone helpline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing counselling on a range of personal health and wellbeing issues given by qualified clinicians. Up to 6 face-to-face counselling sessions are available to provide supportive and solution-focused care based on an individual’s clinical needs. The telephone service also provides specialist information, support and advice in relation to family, financial, legal, work-related and consumer information services as well as providing management support.

The Occupational Health Service provides pre-employment health assessments, sickness absence management, assessments of medical fitness for work and ill health retirement assessments.

These services are currently provided at a total cost of €1.331m (ex VAT) per annum.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 221. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of reversing the changes to the staffing schedule for small schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17792/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to primary schools are published annually on the website of the Department of Education and Skills. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. 

Budget 2012 increased the appointment and retention ratios for small schools (i.e., schools with up to four classroom teachers). Improvements to the staffing of these schools were announced for the 2015/16 school year. These improvements are improved retention thresholds for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th classroom teacher and also the improved appointment and retention thresholds for one-teacher schools situated 8 km or more from the nearest school of the same type of patronage and/or language of instruction.

In addition, Budget 2016 announced a 1 point improvement to the primary staffing schedule. The improved staffing schedule which is available on the Department website has been implemented for the 2016/17 school year.

Following a review of the staffing allocation for Small Primary Schools, Budget 2017 announced two adjustments in relation to one teacher schools. Where the school is the sole primary school on an island the school will be able to appoint a second teacher.  In relation to single teacher schools generally with an enrolment of 15 or more pupils the school can apply to the staffing appeal board for a second post where the single teacher has children across 6 or more class groups.  The detailed arrangements have been set out in the staffing schedule circular for the 2017/18 school year. 

The cost of restoring the 2011/12 staffing schedule for small schools would be approximately €7.5m.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 222. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of providing 100 additional English as additional language posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17794/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The average cost of a primary EAL teacher is €60,000 while the average cost of a post primary EAL teacher is €63,000.

The level of extra teaching support provided in respect of language support to schools is determined by the numbers of eligible pupils enrolled and the associated levels of those pupils' language proficiency.

Earlier this year, I announced that a new model for allocating Special Education Teaching Resources to mainstream primary and post primary schools will be introduced from September 2017. The new model will allocate teachers to schools on the basis of the profiled educational needs of each school. This new model will encompass the Learning/Language support allocation that schools were allocated in previous years. 

DEIS Expenditure

 223. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of extending the DEIS programme by 20% in addition to the new schools announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17795/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that Budget 2017 allocated €5m in additional funding to the current DEIS allocation of €97m for 2017 - equivalent to a full year value of €15m.  Consequently, the overall allocation by my Department for DEIS in 2017/18 will be in the region of €112m. 

Accordingly, the cost  to my Department of extending the DEIS programme by 20% would be in the region of €22m annually. 

DEIS is my Department's main policy initiative to tackle educational disadvantage through supporting schools with the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage in their pupil cohort. The DEIS Plan for 2017 sets out our vision for future intervention in the critical policy area.

The rationale for allocating resources and supports based on a schools’ level of concentrated disadvantage is based on the existence of a ‘multiplier effect’, whereby students attending a school with a concentration of students from disadvantaged backgrounds have poorer academic outcomes, even taking account of individual social background. Research in the area of educational disadvantage indicates a strong evidence base in the Irish context that the social class mix of a school matters, providing a rationale for prioritising supports for schools which cater for high concentrations of pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

In its initial application, the new identification model has identified that there are schools in disadvantaged areas, not previously included in DEIS, whose level of disadvantage is significantly higher than many schools already in the programme.  Accordingly, I am moving as a first step to include these schools within the DEIS School Support Programme.  It is important to note therefore that this is a first step in a process and the fact a school has not been included now does not preclude its inclusion at a later date. 

Further work will be required to refine the application of the new model in terms of resource allocation.  The DEIS Plan 2017 sets out details of the work that will be carried out to ultimately reach a point where the new identification model and the process of resource allocation will ensure that resources in schools are appropriately matched to the identified need within the school.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 224. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the pupil-teacher ratio in all DEIS schools; the cost of reducing this by one point at primary and secondary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17796/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Staffing arrangements in Primary Schools, including staffing in DEIS Urban Band 1 Primary Schools, for the 2017/18 school year are governed by Circular 0017/2017 available at the following link - http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0017_2017.pdf.  Post Primary staffing arrangements for 2017/18 are governed by Circular 00010/2017 available at the following link - http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0010_2017.pdf.

  DEIS Primary Urban Band 2 and DEIS Primary Rural schools are in receipt of the same staffing allocation as non-DEIS schools. The full range of supports available in DEIS schools are available on my Departments website at http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Supporting-Information/Supports-to-DEIS-Schools.html.

  I can advise the Deputy that reducing the Pupil Teacher Ration by one point in DEIS Post Primary Schools would cost approximately €15.2 million. A one point reduction in the schedules for DEIS Primary Urban Band 1 schools would cost in the order of €6 million.

Student Grants Data

 225. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of increasing the special rate of the student grant by €10, €20, €30 and €40 per week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17797/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Figures for the 2016/17 academic year are not yet finalised. However, in 2015/16 there were 22,240 students in receipt of the special rate. Therefore, the cost of paying these students an additional €10, €20, €30 or €40 per week based on a 36 week period, would cost approximately €8m, €16m, €24m or €32m respectively.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 226. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of reversing changes to the distance criteria in the student grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17798/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The cost of reversing the change to the distance criteria in the Student Grant, is estimated to be in the region of €26m.

  Prior to the introduction of the 45 km rule, circa 75% of all maintenance grant holders qualified for higher non-adjacent grant support. The above costing assumes that a change to the distance rule would result in a similar percentage of students qualifying for higher non-adjacent grant support.

Capitation Grants

 227. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the rate of capitation per pupil in primary schools, post-primary schools, youth reach and VLOS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17799/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The links below outline the rates requested by the Deputy which are published on my Department's website.

  http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0028_2016.pdf

  http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0029_2016.pdf

  http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0054_2013.pdf.

Capitation Grants

 228. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of increasing the rate of capitation by €5, €10, €15 and €20 per pupil in primary and post-primary education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17800/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The estimated cost of increasing the rate of capitation by €5, €10, €15 and €20 per pupil in primary schools is circa €2.9m, €5.8, €8.7m and €11.6m retrospectively.

  The estimated cost of increasing the rate of capitation by €5, €10, €15 and €20 per pupil in post primary schools is €1.8m, €3.6m, €5.4m and €7.2m retrospectively.

  The Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 is aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.  The Action Plan outlines hundreds of actions to be implemented over the 3 year period 2016 to 2019 which include restoring capitation funding as resources permit.

Capitation Grants

 229. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of increasing the rate of capitation for primary and post-primary schools by 5%, 10% and 15%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17801/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Each 1% increase in capitation and related grants for primary schools would cost circa €1.9m therefore a 5%, 10% and 15% increase would be circa €9.5m, €19m and €28.5m retrospectively. 

Each 1% increase in capitation and related grants for post-primary schools would cost circa €1.7m therefore a 5%, 10% and 15% increase would be circa €8.5m, €17m and €25.5m retrospectively.

The Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 is aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.  The Action Plan outlines hundreds of actions to be implemented over the 3 year period 2016 to 2019 which include restoring capitation funding as resources permit.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 230. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of reducing the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level by one point; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17802/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Budget 2016 introduced a 1 point improvement (from 28:1 to 27:1) to the primary staffing schedule which has been implemented for the current school year and it should be noted that the current staffing schedule of 27:1 for primary schools has restored it to the position it was at prior to the fiscal crisis.

The staffing schedule operates on a general average of 27 pupils to every 1 teacher for the current school year.  The ratio of 27:1 is an overall classroom teacher allocation ratio for the school and is not a reference to class size.  The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. School authorities are requested to ensure that the number of pupils in any one class is kept as low as possible, taking into account all of the above factors, and to use their autonomy under the staffing schedule to implement smaller class sizes for junior classes.

Each 1 point adjustment to the staffing schedule is estimated to cost in the region of €15m-€18m per annum.

Budget 2017 sets out the resources available for schools for the 2017/18 school year.  This Budget represents the start of a major reinvestment in education, and the first phase of implementation of the Action Plan for Education, aimed at becoming the best education system in Europe within a decade. 

The budget provides for over 2,400 additional teaching posts for our primary and post-primary schools in the next school year.  This includes additional teaching posts to meet demographic need, curriculum reform, additional resource teaching posts and the strengthening of school leadership.

The Programme for Government has a commitment to reduce class sizes at primary level and it is my intention to make further improvements to class sizes over the life of the Government.

Third Level Staff Data

 231. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of reducing the academic staff to student ratio at third level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17803/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In the 2014/15 academic year, there were just over 18,000 core staff across the higher education system (whole-time equivalents. This figure encompasses some 9,800 academic staff and 8,300 non-academic staff. These figures do not include contract research staff. There were just over 190,000 students (whole-time equivalents) enrolled in 2014/15 giving an average academic staff:student ratio across the higher education system of 1:19. The estimated cost of reducing the staff:student ratio by 1 is €61 million.

As the Deputy will be aware the report of the Expert Group on the Future Funding of Higher Education is currently being examined by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills with a view to making recommendations on a long-term sustainable funding model for higher education. 

I have taken immediate steps to increase funding for higher education, the first such increase in nine years. Increased Exchequer funding of €36.5 million was secured in this budget for the higher education sector.

In addition, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are currently undertaking a public consultation process on a proposed Exchequer-employer investment mechanism for higher education and further education and training. It is estimated that the mechanism, which proposes an increase in the national training fund levy from 0.7% to 1% between 2018 and 2020, could yield close to an additional €200 million revenue in 2020. Comments on the proposal may be submitted to the Department by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 13 April. Full details of the consultation process are available on the websites of both Departments. The intention is that, taken together, these approaches will contribute to and inform the development of a long-term sustainable funding model for the higher education and further education and training sectors.

Third Level Funding

 232. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of increasing the core funding to institutions by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25% and 30%, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17804/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The total recurrent budget allocation for 2017 for the higher education institutions under the designation of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which includes all of the Universities and Institutes of Technology, is €978.533 million. To increase that budget by 5% would cost the Exchequer an additional €48.927m; by 10% would cost an additional €97.853m; by 15% would cost an additional €146.78m; by 20% would cost an additional €195.707m; by 25% would cost an additional €244.633m and by 30% would cost an additional €293.56m.

As the Deputy will be aware the report of the Expert Group on the Future Funding of Higher Education is currently being examined by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills with a view to making recommendations on a long-term sustainable funding model for higher education.

I have taken immediate steps to increase funding for higher education, the first such increase in nine years. Increased Exchequer funding of €36.5 million was secured in this budget for the higher education sector.

In addition, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are currently undertaking a public consultation process on a proposed Exchequer-employer investment mechanism for higher education and further education and training. It is estimated that the mechanism, which proposes an increase in the national training fund levy from 0.7% to 1% between 2018 and 2020, could yield close to an additional €200 million revenue in 2020. Comments on the proposal may be submitted to the Department by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 13 April. Full details of the consultation process are available on the websites of both Departments. The intention is that, taken together, these approaches will contribute to and inform the development of a long-term sustainable funding model for the higher education and further education and training sectors.

National Training Fund

 233. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the allocation to the Skillnets programme for the past five years; the number of persons that participated in the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17806/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Skillnets is funded by my Department through the National Training Fund (NTF) to act as an enterprise-led support body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of enterprise training and workforce development as key elements in sustaining national competitiveness.  Its primary role is to increase participation in enterprise training by companies to upskill the workforce and provide greater access for workers to skills development.

  Participating companies provide up to 50% in matching funding to the grants approved by Skillnets.

  The funding allocated by my Department and the number of participants for the period 2012 - 2016 are as follows:

Year20122013201420152016
Allocation14.5 ml14.5 ml15.69 ml16.2 ml16.2 ml
Number of Participants43,97445,71246,44948,92350,328

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 234. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of increasing the rate of the student grant by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17807/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The estimated cost of increasing the student grant rates by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% or 25% would cost in the region of €9m, €17.8m, €26m, €34.6m or €43.3m respectively.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 235. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of providing student support to part-time students, both in terms of fees and grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17808/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Based on the Higher Education Authority (HEA) publication of 'Key Facts and Figures' for Higher Education 2015/16, there were 37,249 part-time undergraduate students and 9,773 part-time postgraduate students.

If maintenance and fee grants were introduced for part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students along similar lines to those for full-time students, and similar numbers qualify for support, then the estimated cost would be in the region of €80m.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 236. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of providing maintenance grants to postgraduate students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17809/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I secured additional funding in Budget 2017 to facilitate the reinstatement of full maintenance grants from September 2017, for the most disadvantaged postgraduate students. This will benefit approximately 1,100 post graduate students who meet the eligibility criteria for the special rate of maintenance grant. It reverses the budgetary cut that was imposed on this cohort of students in 2012.

This change is consistent with the Programme for Government and Action Plan for Education commitment, to increase financial supports for post graduate students with a particular focus on those from low income households.

If postgraduate supports were returned to the pre-2012 level and numbers, it is estimated that additional funding of €45m would be required.


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