Dáil Éireann - Volume 481 - 15 October, 1997

Written Answers - Higher Education Grants.

137. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide funding to increase allowances paid to post graduate research workers and for improvement of research equipment in all our colleges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16642/97]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): Students pursuing postgraduate courses at approved colleges can apply for grants in respect of their fees and maintenance under the higher education grants scheme and the vocational education committee (VEC) scholarship scheme. In addition, students pursuing courses approved under the ESF-aided advanced technical skills (ATS) programme, which must be at postgraduate level, do not pay tuition fees.

In addition to these student supports which are administered by my Department, the office of science and technology provides scholarships, in the form of an annual grant of £2,000, to doctoral students in science and technology subjects. Other sources of funding available to postgraduate students include demonstratorships funded by the colleges and funding from programmes for advanced technology and applied and strategic research grants.

In relation to research equipment I recognise that under the capital investment programme the dedicated provision of £10 million included in the National Development Plan 1994-99 cannot itself meet all the requirements of researchers. The plan did, however, provide a total of £120 million for investment in higher education and research projects primarily related to economic growth and job creation.

I also consider that there is potential in the [1080] changes introduced in the 1997 Finance Act. I believe that these will further encourage the private sector to enter into new partnerships. Section 16 of the Act provides tax relief on donations made by individuals and corporations in relation to research and the acquisition of equipment. Section 25 provides a mechanism to encourage investment in third level buildings or in machinery or plant. These measures provide new possibilities for encouraging partnership with the private sector in financing approved capital projects in third level education. I will keep the issues of postgraduate funding and funding for research equipment under review in the light of available resources.

138. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sympathetically review the application for a higher education grant by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny who has a disability; and if the medical expenses incurred by the applicant's mother will be taken into consideration in the review. [16643/97]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): Under the terms of the third level student support schemes, a candidate's reckonable income for the purposes of the award of a grant is the candidate's gross income from all sources and that of her/his parents or guardians, where applicable.

I understand from Kilkenny County Council, the body statutorily entrusted with the administration of the higher education grants scheme, that the reckonable income in this case exceeds the income limit for the payment of a maintenance grant. The student's fees are being met under the free fees initiative and the local authority will award her a grant of £250 in respect of the charge for student services, registration and examinations.

The student referred to by the Deputy received a grant from the special fund for students with disabilities for the 1996-97 academic year. She may apply to this fund for further assistance for the 1997-98 academic year and I have arranged for details of this fund to be sent to her immediately.