Ireland’s next government will put a “renewed focus” on higher education funding, but college fees will remain the same, Fianna Fáil’s education spokesperson has said.
As government formation talks between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party near an agreement, Thomas Byrne, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for education and skills, confirmed to The University Times this morning that the €3,000 student contribution would remain in place under the next Dáil.
Other higher education issues to be tackled by the next government include a review of the SUSI grant system, increased funding for research, and sexual harassment in higher and further education.
Speaking to The University Times, Byrne said: “What we hope out of this government is a renewed focus on higher and further education. That includes the issue of funding, it includes the issue of student supports.”
“Those issues”, he added, “will be a matter for the government when and if it’s formed. But clearly the higher education system needs a significant boost – not just in the short term, but in the medium term as well”.
The plan for government — which, once finalised, will have to be approved by the members of the three parties — will also include a “review” of the SUSI grant system, and will “address funding challenges in higher education, including [the] impact of Covid”.
Last month, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) voted to lobby the government for reform of the SUSI grant system, which it called “shoddy and broken”.
The programme will also see “more funding for research, including foundational/discovery research”, according to the Independent.
The next government will also “tackle sexual harassment in higher and further education”.
Last month, Fianna Fáil said it would seek to secure state funding for extra college places if it formed a government, amid fears that some students could be disadvantaged due to the introduction of calculated grades in this year’s leaving certificate.
Before February’s general election, Fianna Fáil pledged €100 million a year in public funding for higher education.