Taxpayer spending millions on third-level education for government employees

Taxpayers’ money is funding the third-level education of government employees, figures released from government departments reveal.

According to The Irish Examiner, some €5 million has been spent to send civil servants to pursue further education and in some instances, department staff received refunds of up to €8,000.

The Department of Justice reportedly spent €665,000 on college fees since 2011. Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter said he supported this expenditure and added that a number of factors are considered when granting finance to a member of staff for their education, such as the relevance of the course to the staff members’ position.

Figures show that the Department of Transport also spent €665,000 to send government staff to college, according to The Irish Examiner report. The Department of Agriculture spent €571,000; the Department of Education spent €460,000; €440,000 was spent by the Department of Jobs and Enterprise; and The Department of the Environment spent €450,000 on the scheme.

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton defended her department’s spending of €403,000. She said the areas that employees study reflect the department’s “current and future business needs”.

Employees of Taoiseach Enda Kenny received €102,000 for their studies, while The Department of Foreign Affairs received funds of €280,000.

The President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Joe O’Connor questioned this government spending saying: “In many cases, people are taking courses on for their own benefit, not just the departments, and in most cases staff are in a better position to foot costs rather than students.”

Katie O’Neill

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