3rd November, 2010

•This FF-Green ‘deal’ on education will increase the student registration fee, which is university fees by the back door, and is already at €1500 on average per student.

•The Government has cut teacher numbers leaving Ireland with some of the largest class sizes in the EU and OECD. At the same time, an estimated 1,300 teaching posts will go over the next few years as a result of the changes to the pupil teacher ratio.

•This year alone, the Government is spending €100m on prefabs. Over 1,000 schools are on the waiting list for new school buildings but Government has only spent half of the money allocated to school building projects for 2009.

•32 education cutbacks were introduced by Government in last October’s budget, an attack on the most vulnerable and most in need in our educational system.

•This year over 100 special needs classes were cut by the Minister for Education. According to the Department of Education, 200 additional teachers are needed to cater for the number of students with special needs but there are no plans to meet this need.

The Third Way
Fine Gael’s plan for the third level sector rejects the introduction of 3rd Level College fees and abolishes college registration fees. The Fine Gael Graduate PRSI contribution scheme would raise in the region of €500m per year for reform of the third level sector.

Fine Gael is determined to reform the higher education sector and reposition our universities and institutes to become world leaders in education. Delivering quality higher level education cannot be left to chance.

The new scheme proposed by Fine Gael would see new entrants to college, after graduation, make a contribution through the PRSI system to the value of 30% of the cost of their college education. These funds would be ring fenced for the 3rd level sector.

Key Reform Proposals:
•Abolish third level registration fees once new Graduate Contribution system is in place.
•Colleges should be encouraged to specialise in core areas rather then replicating courses which are offered throughout the entire sector.
•Co-ordination between universities and between universities and the Institutes offer great potential in developing world class standards.
•A new Quality Assurance system needs to be established on an independent basis.
•Review Maintenance and student supports for students from poorer backgrounds.
•A new National Technical University to be established as a means of branding internationally the entire Institute of Technology sector.
•Relocate the Higher Education part of the existing Dept of Education and Science into a new Dept of Technology, Skills, Innovation and Higher Education.
•Establish a new Student Contract where students can be clear about their entitlements to basic standards of education when in college.
•Introduce new labour market needs survey for all new courses.
•Introduce rigorous system of evaluation for research funding which has radically increased in recent years.
•Change rules on philanthropy to encourage the potential of additional funding for the sector

Click here for FG’s Third Way document