The government is considering reducing student contribution fees as part of a new funding package for higher education Irish Times It has been reported.
Income thresholds for student grants can also be lowered, allowing more students to benefit from financial aid.
according to Irish TimesThe proposals are part of a set of policies to be published in January, which are based in part on a report on future Level 3 funding conducted by the European Commission.
Successive governments have been pressured to change the sector’s financing paradigm since the Cassells Report was published in 2016, which outlined three possible ways to secure the financial future of higher education: Abolish student fees – which, since Brexit, are the highest in the United States; European Union – increasing government funding to the sector, retaining fees and increasing funding or introducing an income-conditional loan system. Harris previously ruled out student loans.
Around €40 million would be needed to reduce the student contribution fee by €500, with a reduction of €1,000 costing just over €80 million. The cost of eliminating the fees in full is 245 million euros.
The rising cost of university education has become a more prominent political issue in recent years, with the Students’ Union in Ireland and the Association of Irish Universities repeatedly calling on the government to act on the findings of the Cassells Report.
The issue of high rent prices and the lack of affordable student housing is also regularly raised by student leaders.
In the e-mail statement to Times University A Harris spokesperson said this evening: “The Committee agreed with Minister Harris’ proposal not to pursue student loans as a viable option for a sustainable future funding scheme for higher education in Ireland.”
“It was also recognized that the report would recommend the need to increase core funding to achieve a sustainable system, which will need to be addressed through the Treasury and through the budget,” she said.
Secretary Harris will reach out to Secretary McGrath with a view to making proposals on future funding for higher education along with reform measures in January. This will be accompanied by proposals about the cost of the third level to the student. This will be directed through the report on the Student Support Scheme.”
Harris previously told this newspaper that the verdict on Cassells will be published before the end of the year.
Talking to Times University In October, Harris said he didn’t want to be “the minister who publishes another report and sticks it on an old shelf and gathers dust and says, ‘We need to do more for higher education.'”
Why should I wait to publish it by the end of the year instead of publishing it today? What I’m trying to do is work with my colleagues in government to make sure I can spread it around with a clear set of next steps.”
The Cassells report was sent to the European Commission in January 2019, when the government applied for economic advice on the report.