Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD says the restoration of postgraduate grants is a positive development which will help strengthen third level education.
Deputy Byrne made the comments after SUSI re-opened its application process for third level grants. Fianna Fáil insisted on the restoration of postgraduate grants as part of the Confidence and Supply Arrangement to facilitate a minority Government.
Deputy Byrne said, “The previous Fine Gael – Labour Government abolished almost all postgraduate grants when Budget 2012 was unveiled. The removal of the postgraduate grant was a cruel cutback which only made a miniscule saving for the State. It had a profoundly negative effect on third level education and made it virtually impossible for mature students on low incomes, or those with young children, to return to third level-education.
“Fianna Fáil was vocal in its opposition to the removal of postgraduate grants. This criticism has proven well-based as there has been a reduction of 5% in overall new postgraduate entrants since 2013. The removal of grants for postgraduate education was inconsistent with the Government’s stated policy of building a high skilled ‘smart’ economy. This is why we made the restoration of postgraduate grants a key demand in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement to facilitate a minority Government.
“It’s encouraging to see the restoration of postgraduate grants. This is the beginning of the process of undoing the damaging third level cutbacks introduced by the previous Fine Gael led Government. The Government needs to continue investing in third level education to ensure Ireland remains competitive on the global stage. Fianna Fáil will be pushing for increased investment in postgraduate grants in Budget 2018,” concluded Deputy Byrne.