Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister of State for Skills Niall Collins have outlined a significant cost-of-living-package for third level students as part of Budget 2023.
The package will include a:
- Once-off €1,000 reduction in the student contribution fee for higher education students eligible for the free fees initiative.
- Once-off reduction of up to 33% in the contribution fee for apprentices.
- Once-off extra payment for all student maintenance grant recipients.
- Once-off increase of €1,000 in the support to SUSI qualified Post Graduate students, increasing from €3500 to €4,500.
- Further €8 million investment in the Student Assistance Fund for the 2022/23 academic year.
- Once-off funding for the third level sector to assist with rising energy costs.
In addition, Ministers Harris and Collins welcome a Budget of €3.9 billion for 2023 including:
- A €150 million investment over 2022 and 2023 in Higher Education to strengthen the financial position of universities and enable the sustainable growth of our higher education sector.
- A reduction of €500 in the contribution fee for eligible grant applicants earning between €62,000 and €100,000.
- The threshold for the student contribution 50% grant (€1500) has been expanded to €62,000.
- Student maintenance grants will increase from January.
- A permanent increase in the support for Post Graduate fees under SUSI by €500 from €3,500 to €4,000 from September 2023.
- €30 million in funding to increase capacity for apprenticeship in 2023, and additional funding for social inclusion measures in apprenticeship, such as a bursary for apprentices from under-represented groups.
- Additional funding for small and medium enterprises to adjust to the challenges of Brexit, digital transformation and climate challenges.
Speaking about Budget 2023, Minister Harris said, “we know students are not immune from the cost of living challenges. That’s why we have fought hard to bring them some tangible and immediate relief as part of Budget 2023. We are putting money back into the pockets of students and their families straight away by reducing the student contribution fee by €1,000 for this academic year, apprentices subject to the student contribution will also see this reduced by a third.”
“Separately we are providing for a once off doubling of the payment equivalent to one month’s maintenance made to SUSI maintenance recipients this December. The stipend paid to PHD students in receipt of SFI or IRC awards is being increased by €500. We know the cost of living will still be creating challenges next year though, so from January the student maintenance grant will also increase by a minimum of 10%, further easing the burden on students on their educational journey. Even with all these positive changes, we know that many students will struggle to make ends meet. That’s why I am also delighted to announce an additional €8 million will be set aside for the Student Assistance Fund.”
The package will also see a significant investment in Higher Education in line with the Funding our Future policy.
Minister Harris added, “from 2023, we will invest €1,800 – approximately 25% – more for new places in higher education. We will reduce the student staff ratio. The additional funding will also allow us to embark on joint further and higher education programmes. We will take a significant step in addressing the core underfunding of higher education, while assisting with the significant cost pressures universities are facing too. We will provide significant once off resources to address the rise in energy costs and implement the new pay deal.”
“The funding will allow us to address key legacy issues, but will also allow us to embark on important reforms as committed to under Funding our Future. It will also allow us to embark on joint further and higher education programmes. We will continue to increase funding for further education and apprenticeships too by expanding the number of places and reaching out to the most under-represented groups.”
Minister of State Niall Collins said, “the cost of living crisis is creating incredibly difficult challenges for students across the country. With this Budget we have tried to put money in their pockets to address some of the immediate issues they are facing, while also planning for a more sustainable future over their academic journey.”