Third-level students are set to receive a €250 payment in the coming year in recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on students, as outlined in the Budget 2021.
The once-off payment of €250 for third level students will cost a total of €50 million. This will be given to students who have paid the €3,000 student contribution fee, or those who receive SUSI grants.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, said the payment was to compensate for the effect the pandemic is having on these students.
He said: “For students, this year has been like no other. The majority of college will be online for this semester and we will provide financial assistance through a €50 million fund.”
This is just one of the measures in the Budget 2021. Along with thousands of extra further education places and heightened grants for postgraduate students with the maximum payments rising from €2,000 to €3,500.
The income threshold for eligibility for these grants will rise from €31,500 to €54,240.
A €120 million fund will be delegated to 50,000 further education and training places, along with an updated training scheme and a climate action upskilling scheme, in response to the need to upskill those affected by the pandemic.
Across primary, secondary and third level education, the combined education budget is set to reach more than €12 billion for the first time.
In the Budget 2020, education was one of the areas prioritised by the Government, with over €11 billion provided to the Department of Education and Skills. This was the highest ever allocation as it increased by nearly €2 billion since 2016.
An additional €60 million was made available under a new five-year “human capital initiative”. This initiative invests in increasing the capacity in higher education and in skill-focused programmes.
Under this fund, colleges and universities had the opportunity to pitch and compete to provide new courses in areas where there were skills gaps.
The then Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, said the budget was aimed at “doing our best for the most vulnerable and continue to invest in education for future generations”.
In the lead up to the Budget 2021, students and student unions across Ireland were hoping for more. The Union of Students Ireland (USI) called on the Government to end the student contribution charge of €3,000 as it is the highest in the EU.
Image credit: Oireachtas