Thursday, 17 April 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
36. Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to provide support for students on post-leaving certificate courses in view of the commitment given in the programme, A Government of Renewal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10110/97]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department will provide more than £39 million this year towards the running costs of such courses, and I abolished fees for PLC courses with effect from 1995-6.
To provide a maintenance grants scheme for PLC students along the lines of the third level scheme would cost in excess of £11 million per annum. I am sure the House will appreciate that a balance has to be struck 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 students 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 developments, in inservice training,  and in ensuring provision in a wide range of disciplines for as many students as possible.
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