Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson, Thomas Byrne TD has said that the €36.5 million additional funding that has been released to the Higher Education sector is a direct result of Fianna Fáil applying pressure on the Government.

“Today’s announcement of the re-starting of investment into our 3rd and 4th level educational institutions is welcome news. It comes after years of underinvestment by Fine Gael and Labour while in government.

“However, it is considerably less than what is needed to make up for the years of underinvestment, and will need to be increased in the next Budget to meet demand.

“Fianna Fáil made it clear during its negotiations with Fine Gael that investment in higher education, and in particular, the reintroduction of post graduate grants, was a red line issue for the party.

“In particular, the move to provide an additional €4 million for post-graduate grants is very welcome. Over 1100 disadvantaged students this September will be eligible for a grant, but the Minister must now start planning to expand this grant to include more students in following years,” added Byrne.

“Fine Gael needs to get serious about higher education and the educational opportunities that need to be provided to our young people to ensure the future vitality of our knowledge economy.

“However, the Minister’s decision to allocate €4 million to support the development of Technological Universities is unusual, as he has yet to bring forward the necessary legislation needed to drive this proposal forward.

“On this issue, the Minister is failing to drive his own agenda, and that is troubling.

“Additional funding in the Higher Education sector is always welcome, but Minister Bruton needs to be cognisant of the years of underinvestment by his government, and the need to increase funding over the lifetime of the current government,” concluded Byrne.