05 January, 2017 - Minister Bruton announces breakdown of €36.5m Third Level spend

The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD, has today published a detailed breakdown of the additional €36.5m which is being allocated to Higher Education in Budget 2017.

During the last decade, student numbers have increased by 38,000 while spending was cut by 33%. The additional allocation of €36.5m to higher education is the first significant investment in higher education for 9 years. It marks the recommencement of investment into higher education.

The breakdown of the €36.5m is as follows:

Postgraduates (€4m): For the 2017/18 scheme, €4m will be targeted at the most disadvantaged students, for the provision of maintenance grants of up to €5,915. This will benefit approximately 1,100 post graduate students.

Disadvantage (€4.5m): This includes:

  • €1m for measures to support more lone parents to access higher education.
  • €1m for the introduction of a new 1916 centenary bursary scheme that will be targeted at groups that are currently under-represented in higher education.
  • €2.5m to incentivise higher education institutions to attract more students from disadvantaged communities.

Research (€3m): actions will include the commencement of the new Frontiers Research programme and funding to attract world-leading researchers, particularly important in the context of Brexit. This includes:

  • €1.5m to commence the new Frontiers Research programme (Action 3.8 Innovation 2020)
  • €1.5million will be allocated to attract world-leading researchers (Action 3.9 Innovation 2020), particularly important in the context of Brexit.

Skills (€3.5m): incentivised additional places in areas of strategic skills need, following the principle that HEIs will receive additional cash payments, per student, where they attract additional students that fulfil specific criteria; funding for 200 ICT Graduate Conversion Level 9 places to commence in 2017/ 2018; provision of summer camps in the areas of ICT and Entrepreneurship:

  • €1m is being provided for 400 ICT Graduate Conversion Level 9 courses.
  • €0.5m is being allocated for the provision of summer camps in the areas of ICT and Entrepreneurship.
  • €1m allocated to Springboard for additional places.
  • €1million for incentivised additional places in areas of strategic skills need, following the principle that HEIs will receive additional cash payments, per student, where they attract additional students that fulfil criteria in this area.

Technological Universities (€4m): To support the development of technological universities.

Flexible Learning (€2m):  allocated to provide for an increase in flexible, online and blended learning, based on the principle that HEIs will receive additional cash payments, per student, where they attract additional students that fulfil criteria in this area.

Demographics (€14m): The figure of €14m which is allocated for demographics, is based on an increase of 1,500 students in 2017.

International Education Strategy (€1.5m): This will support the implementation of the International Education Strategy.

The Minister said:

“Higher education is a central part of our plan as a Government to support a strong economy and a fair society. Our plans are based around firstly developing a world class higher education system that can provide the skilled workers our economy needs, and secondly addressing inequalities by ensuring that more students from disadvantaged areas can access opportunities in this area.

We are providing an initial investment of €36.5million in the sector this year and €160million over the next three years. This is the first significant investment in the sector in 9 years – a period in which State investment in higher education fell by 33% (€463million), during a time of growing demographics. This will allow us for the first time to keep pace with demographic increases and also introduce targeted initiatives in priority areas, in particular disadvantage, skills, research and flexible learning, with thousands of students benefiting under each heading.

To build on this initial investment, we will immediately start work on a new mechanism aimed at allowing us to put in place a comprehensive multi-year spending plan for the sector. I will work with Minister Donohoe to put in place a sustainable and predictable multi-annual funding model for Higher and Further Education from 2018 in which all beneficiaries of the third level sector can play a role. I intend to bring proposals to Government in the middle of next year on this.

I am convinced that, after a decade of cuts, this will be the start of a plan which creates a truly world-class higher education system – world-class at providing the skilled workers we need, and world-class at addressing inequalities and helping to tackle disadvantage.”