Dáil Éireann - Volume 520 - 08 June, 2000
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.
Mr. D'Arcy Mr. D'Arcy
90. Mr. D'Arcy asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether the third level maintenance grant is adequate in view of the increasing cost of accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16193/00]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): In recognition of the difficulties being encountered by students and following consultation with third level colleges, the Government introduced special tax incentives to encourage the provision of student rented residential accommodation in the Finance Act, 1999.
The availability of tax incentives in the past resulted in the provision of a significant number of student residences. As the tax relief will be available for expenditure up to 31 March 2003, the opportunity exists to create significant  additional accommodation for third level students. As indicated in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, the Government will evaluate the impact of these tax incentives and will consider further action in the light of the results of the evaluation.
These tax incentives are intended to increase the availability of dedicated student housing and represent a targeted response to the underlying issue of an accommodation shortage, rather than an across the board increase in grant levels which, at a considerable cost, would have no direct impact on helping students to compete in the rented accommodation sector.
In relation to the value of third level maintenance grants, I previously indicated my intention to follow the practice of recent years and increase the grants in line with inflation, so as to ensure that the real value of maintenance grants is maintained. In addition, there is provision within the national development plan for a third level access fund totalling £95 million over the period of the plan to promote the participation of students with disabilities, students from disadvantaged backgrounds and mature second chance students. This fund will, inter alia, provide financial support to disadvantaged students by way of additional support to the existing maintenance grants schemes. Considerations are ongoing on the allocation for initiatives under this fund. I am not yet in a position to convey details about the allocation of the funding.
Dáil Éireann 520 Written Answers. Higher Education Grants.