For Oral Answer on : 08/02/2022
Question Number(s): 57 Question Reference(s): 6120/22
Department: Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the way his Department intends to address the costs associated with further and higher education such as student accommodation costs and the student contribution charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am highly conscious, as all my Government colleagues are, of the challenges posed by the increased cost of living. For those in the education system, this could include accommodation costs, food, textbooks and in many cases the student contribution.
I recognise that student contributions are a significant cost for those who pay them. While over 65,000 students and their families who receive support from SUSI either pay no contribution or a reduced contribution level, there are very many families who have to pay these charges, including those families with a number of members in college.
There are different ways to address the costs of education, including lowering student contributions, and I will be examining the options available that will make an impact for families and students in the next Estimates process.
I am also acutely aware of the costs and challenges associated with accommodation. One of the issues we have already tackled is to end the previous practice of students having to pay a lump sum each term. This represented a significant upfront expense for students. Legislation passed last year restricts any upfront payment required to secure a tenancy or license (including rent, deposit and any other charges) to no more than the equivalent of two months’ rent, and limits payments thereafter to one month’s rent at a time. This legislation also applies to students residing under license in student-accommodation.
The Government as a whole is working to increase the supply and affordability of all types of housing and accommodation under Housing for All. I am engaging with Minister O’Brien to address specific issues to support development of greater levels of student accommodation.