The extra €64.5 million allocated to higher and further education and training in Budget 2018 will help people reach their full potential, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Limerick Senator and Seanad spokesperson on Education and Skills, Maria Byrne, said: “In total, investment in higher and further education will be €100 million higher in 2018 than in 2016, creating better opportunities for Irish students.
“In 2018, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €554 million to over €10 billion in 2018, a 5.8% increase on last year’s budget allocation.
“Measures in 2018 will include 1,000 additional Springboard places and enhanced funding for Skillnets to deliver training in key skills areas identified by employers such as Life Sciences; Brexit and International Financial Services; Data Analytics; and Sustainability, Green Finance and Responsible Investments.
“Over 6,000 new apprenticeships and 10 new apprenticeship schemes will come on board, and Budget 2018 will also allow for enhanced post-graduate funding and bursaries for disadvantaged students, ensuring there are no financial barriers to further education and everyone gets a fair chance.
“We will also see progress on Technological Universities and institutional mergers.
“I have always been a strong advocate of opening up our Third Level institutions for students from disadvantaged communities and we are continuing to invest in broadening access to higher education.
“An additional €4million has been approved for access measures in 2018. This complements the €8.5m that was provided in 2017 and which will be provided again in 2018.
“It also complements the funding of €450 million that is provided on an annual basis by the Department for access measures including the student grant scheme, which offers a helping hand to students who need it most.
“Some €331 million over the period 2018-2021 will be used to significantly boost capital investment in higher and further education, including research.
“This will include €53 million to support the further education and training sector to cover capital costs associated with new apprenticeship courses and new syllabi, as well as initiating a small number of building projects in the sector.
“This investment will take place alongside the roll-out of a major €200m Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Programme for the higher education sector, details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Continuing investment in higher education will create a brighter future for students and families across the country.”