Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins TD have today announced a series of measures as part of Budget 2022.
The package includes:
- A €200 increase in the maintenance grant payment for the Student Support Scheme, an expansion of income thresholds by €1,000, and adjusting the non-adjacent rate to include 30km to 45km;
- Abolishing the €200 Post Leaving Cert levy for over 10,000 learners;
- €200 million over 2021 and 2022 to strengthen the financial position of universities and provide capacity for extra students;
- Supporting and developing apprenticeships by funding a new employer apprenticeship grant and establishment of a new Apprenticeship Office;
- Up to 20,000 places to support jobseekers and address key skills areas of the economy including for climate and low carbon initiatives and 35,000 learners availing of green skills modules;
- The implementation of the new 10 year Adult Literacy for Life strategy including the establishment of a programme office, recruitment of literacy co-ordinators in every education and training board and a new collaboration and innovation fund;
- Support for the implementation of research and innovation projects across Government;
- €5 million for the roll-out of new access measures, including those for students with intellectual disabilities;
- €2 million for gender equality in senior academic leadership and a framework for consent in higher education.
Minister Harris said: "There has never been a more important time to invest in further and higher education, innovation and skills.
"COVID-19, Brexit and climate change are fundamentally changing the way we all live and work and it is vital Ireland invests to ensure we are ready for this new normal.
“We are committed to investing in the future and the sustainability of higher education – we have really significant teaching, learning, research and development capacity in our education institutions that can make a big difference in people’s lives, and it’s vital that we support that. We will position Ireland as a leader in innovation, driving an internationally competitive research and development system, creating an innovative enterprise base and building a better society.
“I will also be bringing a report on the future sustainability of further and higher education to be considered by Government in the near future. A detailed implementation process will follow and my officials will engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and stakeholders to progress a sustainable future funding model and transformation agenda for the sector and ensure it continues to be a cornerstone of our economic success.
"As well as these long-term investments in our future, Budget 2022 will see the first major changes to the Student Support Scheme rates and eligibility in over a decade, including an increase to the maintenance grant.
"It will also ensure we leave nobody behind, with the abolition of the Post Leaving Cert Course levy, and investment in our adult literacy strategy will begin. Education and training is for all your life and it’s not just taking place in universities – we are in your local community and we have a place for you no matter what you want to learn.”
Minister Collins said: “We now have an opportunity to deliver skills to people in areas where industries are crying out for staff, including digital infrastructure, cyber security, construction, transport and logistics, climate sustainability, and many more. Employers need workers with these skills - skills for industries which will grow in the future, as well as others that are expanding right now.
“That’s why we are investing significantly in this area. Today we are investing in people and talent – our workforce is already educated and adaptable, and my Department will make sure that you can easily and cheaply access training courses to help you in your current job or to change careers, at any level from a certificate to a Masters.”