Third level fees of € 3,000 will be reduced and student loans excluded

College students will be saved tens of thousands of euros in student loans and will likely see the € 3,000 registration fee reduced under plans being developed by the government.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris got Cabinet approval to rule out a student loan program to support future funding for the higher education sector, the Irish Examiner can reveal.

A student loan scheme was one of three financing options presented in a 2016 expert report. With Mr. Harris formally ruling out that option, the taxpayer will have to dig deeper to resolve the $ 600 million annual underfunding. euros of postgraduate colleges.

On the Cabinet subcommittee on economic recovery, Mr. Harris briefed his colleagues on the consideration of future funding for higher education. Now the committee has agreed with him that student loans should “not be seen as a viable option any more” for a sustainable financing system.

Core funding

Significantly, it was also recognized that there is a need to increase core funding to achieve a sustainable system, which will need to be addressed through the Treasury and October budget. Next month, Mr Harris and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath will have to agree on proposals for resolving future funding for higher education.

This will be accompanied by proposals on the cost of the third cycle for the student. This will be guided by the report on the student support program, its spokesperson said.

As part of his plan, Mr Harris is also seeking to introduce reforms to how colleges are accountable, a move fiercely opposed by top professors and academics at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

They see Mr. Harris’s reforms as an attempt to abolish his elected board, in place for 429 years, and see it replaced by one containing strangers.

“The department wants a standard governance model for all universities,” a senior source told the Irish Examiner. “TCD must comply and be brought into line. ”

Clare Austick, President of the Union of Students in Ireland, said: “I am glad to hear that student loans are not seen as a viable option, but there is also a need to reduce student contributions. Education must be accessible to all.

“We strongly support that a fully publicly funded system is what we need.”

Published in 2016, the Cassells report offers three different solutions to the funding challenges facing Irish higher education institutions:

  • Abolish the student contribution – currently € 3,000 per year, the second highest third-level tax in the EU – and create a system financed mainly by the state;
  • Leave in place the current contribution of students and increase public funding of universities and other higher education institutions;
  • Introduce an income-based loan system.

After several years of lobbying for a student loan scheme as the best way to finance higher education, Irish universities reversed this position in 2018.

It is estimated that additional annual funding of € 600 million is needed to properly fund higher education.

This figure will reach € 1 billion by 2030 to deliver better quality results and respond to a growing population.

About Judith J. George

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