This afternoon, Simon Harris published plans by the department to reduce the student contribution charge going forward.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris has published a plan to reduce the cost of higher education.
With the publication of this plan, Harris has launched the “Funding a Future” policy in which government has committed to reducing the student contribution charge. They will achieve this through a “multi-funded model of additional Exchequer investment and employer contributions through the National Training Fund”.
Government identified a funding gap of €307 million and noted that “funding for future demographic growth and new policy proposals will be in addition to this”.
Harris promised “changes to the Student Grant Scheme and student contributions over time” in the new plan. This will be advanced “ through the publication of an annual assessment on reducing the cost of education for students and families to inform annual budget processes”.
Speaking today, Harris said: “Today is an important day for the future of our country as we set out the vision and direction of higher education funding in this country.”
“We are confirming our commitment to addressing legacy issues in higher education and detailing our ambitious plans for investment and reform.”
Harris noted that “cost cannot and should not be a barrier to accessing education”.
“It is my firm intention to take the pressure off families and listen to the calls of our younger generations.”
“Today, we settle the question on higher education funding. We will increase our investment. We will also support our students.”
This new investment is in addition to the annual €2 billion spend on higher education. Harris said he “will continue to prioritise students who have the highest levels of financial difficulty”.
The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science will “seek to simplify the Student Grant Scheme” and will “conduct an analysis of part-time courses with a view to introducing statutory supports for part-time students”.
Harris is also to chair a new oversight group to drive these reforms. The group will be co-chaired by Professor Tom Collins and Professor Anne Looney.