€14m of the government’s investment in third-level education announced in Budget 2017 will be allocated to dealing with the increasing numbers attending public-funded institutions. Minister for Education, Mr. Richard Bruton announced the breakdown of how the €36.5m allocated to third-level education will be invested yesterday.
Just €14m of the fund will be allocated to dealing with the increasing number of students in third-level education. The number of college-attending students has increased by 38,000 over the past 10 years. 179,000 students are expected to attend this year, which is an increase of 1,500 on last year’s figures. Next year, numbers are set to increase by 12,000 in primary and secondary schools with those attending third-level expected to increase by a third in the next 10 years.
2012 saw the removal of postgraduate maintenance grants by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition. Since then, the number of postgraduate students has declined in higher education. However, starting next autumn, about 1,100 postgraduate students will be eligible for grants of up to €5,915.
€1m has been allocated to support single parents attending higher education. €2.5m is to be provided to aid and encourage those from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend third level. A 1916 centenary grant scheme will be introduced at the value of about €1m to enable those underrepresented in higher education to attend.
The 2017 Budget marks the first time since 2008 that extra money is to be invested into third level education. Following nearly a decade of cuts where funding dropped by a third, the added €36.5m has been allocated to third level institutions with a further €160m to be invested over the next three years.
Additional reporting by Sarah Meehan.