Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.

Thursday, 17 April 1997

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 477 No. 7

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  36.  Mr. B. Smith  Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith   asked the Minister for Education  Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach   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): Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh 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, [1517] and in ensuring provision in a wide range of disciplines for as many students as possible.

Due to overall resource constraints I am unable to provide maintenance grants for PLC students. I will keep the matter under review.


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