Sinn Féin have included an immediate reduction of the student contribution charge by €1,000 in their alternative budget proposal.
The alternative budget, published on Friday, notes the party’s dedication to eventually abolishing student fees altogether, but proposes the refunding of students who have already paid full fees €1,000, and a €1,000 reduction of the second payment for those paying in instalments for the 2022/23 budget.
The budget proposal estimates the cost of such a policy at €85.4 million.
As well as this, it allocates €3.4 million to extend the free fees initiative to cover graduate entry medical students.
Sinn Féin also suggest an increase in SUSI grants by 25% on 2020/21 levels.
In May, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris published plans to reduce the student contribution charge through the Funding the Future framework.
Harris also committed to increasing grant funding available through SUSI scheme, including a lower threshold for eligibility.
Sinn Féin’s alternative budget proposal contains a €13.5 billion package for the remainder of 2022 and duration of 2023, with a focus on tackling the current cost-of-living crisis, and in particular to cut and cap energy cost levels to the rate they were in the summer of 2021.
Altogether, the allocation of their budget focussed on addressing the rising cost of energy to over €5.998 billion – more than 44% of their entire budget.
Budget 2023 is due to be announced by government tomorrow, Tuesday, 27 September 2022.