Dáil Éireann - Volume 512 - 01 December, 1999
Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Status.
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
93. Mr. McDowell asked the Minister for Education and Science the funds which his Department allocated towards disadvantaged access in each of the years from 1990. [25354/99]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): A range of measures are ill place to further the promotion of equality of access to third level education. The need for a holistic approach to promote equality rather than policies focused only on the third-level sector and on the transition from second to third level, is well established.
In relation to measures specifically targeted at third level, the third level colleges have developed initiatives to tackle the problem of access for the disadvantaged to third level education, through targeted funding provided to the universities by the Higher Education Authority and funding from within the overall financial allocations to the institutes of technology. These initiatives involve links with second-level schools and local communities.
The programmes in place assist some students to meet the points requirement for courses, enabling them to obtain a college place through the standard CAO entry procedure. The other aspect of the programmes is the special entry arrangements through which more flexible entry criteria are applied and various supports put in place for students entering by this method.
The disadvantaged fund was introduced in 1996 and is administered by the Higher Education Authority. Funds have been allocated as follows:
A separate measure, the special fund for students with disabilities, was introduced in 1994 and operates under the aegis of my Department to provide funding to students with disabilities attending courses in third level institutions and, since 1998, in post leaving certificate centres.
The purpose of the special fund is to provide students with serious physical and/or sensory disabilities with grant assistance towards the cost of special equipment, special materials and technological aids, targeted transport services, personal assistants and sign language interpreters. I am providing for a substantial increase to the fund this year, details of which I will be announcing shortly.
The allocation from this fund since 1994 is as follows:
A £6.9 million two-year funding initiative to tackle educational disadvantage in the third level sector was announced in the context of the 1999 budget. Of this funding, £3 million is being specifically allocated to promote access to third level amongst students from disadvantaged backgrounds including people with disabilities. £2.4 million of the funding initiative has permitted the higher, non-adjacent rate of grant to be paid to all eligible mature students under the student support schemes with effect from the 1999-2000 academic year. The balance of £1.5 million is being provided to address the issue of non-completion of courses in important parts of the third level system. My Department has had discussions with the access officers of the colleges, the Union of Students in Ireland, the Higher Education Authority and other interested bodies in relation to this funding and I will be announcing further details very soon.
The national development plan, 2000-2006, establishes education as a key priority of Government. The plan provides for a third level access fund totalling £95 million. Building on the existing arrangements, the development of third level access is necessary to promote the participation of students with disabilities, students from disad vantaged backgrounds and mature “second chance” students. The objective of this measure is to facilitate and improve access to the labour market for the beneficiaries whilst improving their long-term employability through enhancing their educational qualifications.
Dáil Éireann 512 Written Answers. Disadvantaged Status.