Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
200. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Education the number of students throughout the country on third level post-leaving certificate courses; the cost involved in providing them with a grants scheme to cover fees and maintenance; if she will provide such a scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): At present, approximately 17,900 students participate in post leaving certificate courses which are provided in second level schools and colleges outside the third level sector. A means tested grants scheme to cover both fees and maintenance would cost of the order of £10 million per annum.
I am sure the House will appreciate the need to strike a balance between competing demands for resources in the education sector — between funding for the different levels of the system, between initial and second chance education, between student supports, investment in quality assurance, and special measures to combat disadvantage and under achievement.
In the case of PLC courses I consider it more important to concentrate on improving the quality of the system, through investment in national certification and assessment arrangements, in programme development, in inservice training, and in ensuring that courses  continue to be available in a wide range of disciplines for as many students as possible.
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