The first Budget from the country’s first dedicated Department of Further and Higher Education evoked a mixed reaction, with student leaders claiming it ignored barriers preventing access to college in favour of piecemeal one-off funding.
There was a general welcome for the focus it put on higher education, and some praise for the commitment minister Simon Harris is bringing to the role, but there was also criticism of “missed opportunities”.
The €3.3bn 2021 spend includes €50m to be paid directly to about 200,000 full-time students this year – €250 each – to help soften the Covid-19 financial blow.
Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president Lorna Fitzpatrick welcomed it, but said the Government failed to address the “underlying problem – that students face the highest fees in the EU”.
Other commitments include:
:: Retaining almost 2,300 college places created this year – and adding a further 2,700;
:: Review of