Education funding cut by 5%

 

Education funding has been cut by more than 5 per cent in the Budget - but there is no increase in the student registration fee.

Teachers and third-level staff will bear the brunt of the cuts , with pay for the average teacher down by 6 per cent.

An increase in the €1,500 student registration charge was expected after the Government abandoned plans to introduce student loans two months ago.

But the increase did not materialise after legal opinion suggested any move to use the student charge to subsidise overall costs could be illegal. The registration fee is designed to cover the costs of student services in college.

However, the Budget was not all good news for students as Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe announced a 5 per cent cut in student maintenance grants.

As expected, the Budget delivered on a number of commitments made by Fianna Fáil ministers to their Green Party colleagues in negotiations on the Revised Programme for Government.

This year, there is no increase in class size and there is also funding for 720 new teaching posts over the next three years at both primary and second level.

Overall spending on education is to be reduced by €603 million next year as part of Government efforts to stabilise the exchequer.

Mr O’Keeffe said “despite the very severe economic circumstances, we are prioritising the capital programme in education, with €794 million allocated for 2010”.

“I am providing €26 million to meet the cost of employing extra teachers in our schools in 2010 in line with the commitments agreed in the Renewed Programme for Government,” he added.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (Into) said teachers had suffered a 7 per cent pay cut, seen their taxes increased by 5 per cent, a pay rise reneged on, promotions embargoed and several hundred job losses.

The following are key feature of the Budget education measures:

Capital:

The total funding available is a decrease of less than 7 per cent compared to the allocation for 2009.

€579m will be allocated to continue the investment being made in the school building programme. That includes €72m in savings carried over from this year;

Additional investment:

€14m is being provided in 2010 for the implementation of the Renewed Programme for Government commitment to provide extra teachers from September 2010 for the 2010/11 school year to meet demographic pressures and to ensure no further increase in the pupil-teacher ratio.

This allocation will fund 600 posts in primary schools and 330 posts in post-primary schools.

€19m is being provided to maintain school capitation grants at current levels and to take account of increased pupil numbers. This allocation will also enable extra funding to be allocated to schools for school books and to support curricular activities as provided in the Renewed Programme for Government.

Higher education:

The provision in 2010 for universities and institutes of technology is €1,266m - a 4 per cent reduction on the 2009 budget.

The funding available in 2010 for projects under the Strategic Innovation Fund is €18m - a reduction of €8m on 2009.

Adult and further education:

The number of places provided in Senior Traveller Training Centres (STTCs) will be reduced from 984 places to 684 places.

Teacher education:

The provision for teacher in-service education support is €29.79m compared with a 2009 estimate of €40m.

Teacher sick leave and substitution:

The supply teacher scheme at primary level will cease from the start of the 2010/11 school year. Normal substitution arrangements which apply to primary schools generally to cover teacher absences will be used to cover substitution in those schools that participated in the scheme.

From the start of the 2010/11 school year, the maximum number of uncertified sick leave days allowed in the school year for teachers in primary, secondary and community and comprehensive schools will be reduced to seven days. This is the same number of days available for teachers in vocational schools and community colleges.

Reduction in allocations to education bodies:

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment reduced by €0.93m;

National Council for Special Education reduced by €2.3m;

Higher Education Authority reduced by €0.562m;

Dublin Dental Hospital reduced by €0.410m;

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies reduced by €0.546m;

Royal Irish Academy of Music reduced by €0.303m;

National Qualifications Framework (NQAI, FETAC, HETAC) current allocation reduced by €2.1m;