The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, announced plans today to increase higher education funding and reduce the costs on students and their families.

The policy launch today called ‘Funding the Future’ includes a pledge to reduce the €3,000 student contribution fee for college students over a number of budgets. The plan also commits that the government will not introduce student loans as part of the future funding model.

Instead, the increased funding will come from greater government investment and employer contributions through the National Training Fund. 

Current government funding in the higher education sector is around €2 billion. In two independent reports proceeding today’s policy announcement from the European Commission report on funding Higher Education and a review of the Student Grant Scheme, a €307 million funding gap was identified ad the plan announced today intends to fill that in order to bring funding in line with international peers. 

Mr Harris said this funding will focus on lowering staff-student ratios, improving the quality of programmes and providing a third-level education system which is accessible to “everyone in society”.

The policy plan also includes measures to reduce the cost of education for students and families through changes to the Student Grant Scheme and student contributions over time. However, no date has been given as to when students will see the contribution charge cut. The minister told reporters today that it would be a Budget decision for October.

Speaking at today’s launch, Minister Harris said “We are confirming our commitment to addressing legacy issues in higher education and detailing our ambitious plans for investment and reform.”

He added that “As always, the people we serve are central to all we do. Today, we settle the question of higher education funding. We will increase our investment. We will also support our students.”

Conor Paterson – Co-Editor