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Amendment no.1 to Educational Funding

Vote from 14/11/2012

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Charlie McConalogue on Tuesday, 13 November 2012:

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Background information

The following motion was moved by Deputy Charlie McConalogue on Tuesday, 13 November 2012:

That Dáil Éireann: agrees that:
- the new Student Universal Support Ireland central on-line system for processing
student grants is failing abysmally to meet what is required for over 65,000 applications and this is causing undue hardship for third-level students awaiting payments; and
- sufficient extra staffing should be supplied immediately to correct this on-going problem so that student grants can be issued by Christmas;
recognises that third-level students are facing year-on-year increases in their registration fees which are unfair and unjust in light of a promised reduction in these fees; and
calls on the Government to:
- refrain from further cuts to the education budget and increases in third-level regis- tration fees;
- ensure that all children who require Special Needs Assistants are provided with them;
- reinstate the Career Guidance Teacher provision; and
- preserve funding to Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools programme schools

Debate resumed on amendment No 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“notes that:
— the annual cost of attending college increased by over 950% during Fianna Fáil’s time in office, from €190 in 1996-97 to €2,000 in 2011-12, effectively bringing to an end the era of free third level education in Ireland;
— sixty-six bodies around the country were previously tasked with the awarding of student grants – a system which involved significant duplication of functions and under which students in many parts of the country faced very significant delays in receiving student grants; and
— arising from its disastrous economic mismanagement of the public finances, the previous Government oversaw cuts to the staffing of primary schools, the dismantling of schemes to support those from Traveller backgrounds, reductions to the additional teaching posts for children who require support to learn English and the introduction of a cap on the number of special needs assistants, SNAs, who could be employed in schools;
further notes that:
— the Government continues to exempt more than 40% of students from any re- quirement to pay the student contribution, as well as providing tens of thousands of students with maintenance grants to assist with the costs of third level education; and
— the Government has protected the overall number of SNAs and resource teachers in schools, is rolling out high-speed broadband to every post-primary school in Ireland and has created programmes such as Springboard and the Labour Market Education and Training Fund that will provide more quality education places for those who are looking
for work or seeking to upskill;
recognises that:
— there have been some delays with the awarding of grants by the newly established Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, service;
— the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee has arranged for the employ- ment of additional staff by SUSI to bring such delays to an end and to ensure that all successful applicants receive grant payments by the end of December 2012;
— the Higher Education Authority, at the request of the Minister for Education and Skills, has written to all third level institutions asking them to avoid taking any action targeted at students who are awaiting the processing of student grant applications; and
— the establishment of SUSI in place of 66 separate grant awarding bodies will, in time, ensure that students continue to receive payments directly to their bank accounts and that student grants are administered in the most efficient way possible; and wel- comes the significant reform agenda which has been undertaken by the Minister, includ- ing a new national literacy and numeracy strategy, the establishment of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, the overhaul of the existing junior cycle, a new examination of the points system and transitions between second and third levels, the announcement of a five year building programme, the reform of the VEC sector and the creation of a new national further education and training agency and the creation of a new landscape document for the higher education sector” (Minister for Education and Skills)

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